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All Hands Makes Virtual Team Updates a Breeze 25 Sep 2020, 9:28 am

Bringing your team together for an all hands meeting is a great way to keep everyone up to date on important company news. However, with team members working remotely or even working all over the globe, it can be difficult to find a time that works for everyone – even for a virtual meeting.

If your team includes people with different schedules and even different time zones, you’ll want to check out All Hands, an app that lets you create video updates for your team to view when and where it’s convenient for them. 

All Hands knows that better-informed teams make better decisions. With the app, you can record videos and even have other people contribute – all you need is your phone. When it’s time to update your team, you can share the video via Slack and Microsoft Teams rather than creating yet another a calendar invite. This lets your team members watch the video wherever they are, at a time that works best for them. All Hands also provides analytics so you can see how your team engaged with your video, helping you to create even better, more relevant videos in the future.

In addition to providing updates to your team, All Hands can be used to keep stakeholders informed, such as by sharing a product demonstration, without having to schedule a meeting with them.

Features
All Hands includes a variety of features that helps you easily and effectively communicate with your team.

  • Pre-recorded videos: Rather than dealing with headaches from trying to find one day and time that works for all of your team members, All Hands lets you create collaborative, pre-recorded videos for your team members to watch when it’s convenient for them.
  • View anytime: With All Hands, there’s no need to schedule multiple meetings. Your entire team watches the same update, just at a time that makes sense for them.
  • Video features: All Hands videos feature automatic AI closed captions plus quick CDN video delivery and playback speed.
  • Two-way communication: Viewers can react to your video with emojis, provide feedback and even ask and answer questions to continue the dialogue. This also helps you see who understands your message and who might need a follow-up conversation.
  • Analytics: All Hands provides data that gives you clearer insight into who is most engaged with your video as well as which parts your audience found most interesting. This helps you create even more effective videos in the future. Everyone who presents can access their own statistics, and you can collect qualitative feedback and request questions and comments.
  • Improves company culture: All Hands makes it easy to show employee appreciation and celebrate team members’ achievements, which can increase morale as well as productivity. Sharing pre-recorded videos also enables you to communicate with your team while respecting their work schedules.

Interested?
If you’re looking to keep your team informed without the headache of trying to schedule a specific meeting time, then All Hands is a great option. Check out their website to learn more and book a demo.

Photos
All Hands

The post All Hands Makes Virtual Team Updates a Breeze appeared first on KillerStartups.

Does Your Startup Need an Accountant? Here’s How to Tell 24 Sep 2020, 8:00 am

Starting a business is intense. When you’re in the thick of it, accounting and bookkeeping is not considered as urgent as, say, getting to a minimum viable product or figuring out your startup’s cash runway.

Yet, working with an accountant can be foundational to the health of your business and accountants are often considered small business owners’ most trusted advisors for a wide range of business advice. Get a leg up on the competition by outsourcing accounting to an expert. Not sure if your company really needs one? Here are some ways to tell:

1. If you’re unprepared to weather a crisis alone

Prior to 2020, many businesses were ready to endure small, emergency situations, but no one was ready for an event as destructive to the economy as the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help businesses cope, the U.S. government offered Paycheck Protection Program loans and tax credits courtesy of the CARES Act. Accounting services suddenly became even more essential. In fact, in a survey of small business owners, online payroll company OnPay found that businesses that didn’t have an accountant were less likely to receive government relief, expect an increase in revenue or return to normal quickly.

Additionally, 2020 has brought natural disasters, such as wildfires and hurricanes. To claim the benefits you’re owed by your insurance provider and get disaster loans through the U.S. government, you would need to have your finance paperwork in order. An accountant can help you navigate the tricky and technical waters.

While hopefully 2020 has been an anomaly, emergencies and crises put startups in a precarious position. An accountant can walk with you during a crisis and prepare you financially for the next one.

2. If you don’t have any finance experience

The safest answer to the question “Does your startup need an accountant?” is “Yes, always.” Instead of rearranging your budget and trying to find money for an accountant later, the best case scenario is to have been in conversation with one from the beginning. The exception is if you’ve started another business before and have a good handle on how the process works from a financial perspective. 

When you’re preparing to launch your startup, an accountant can help you implement an airtight bookkeeping system, determine how your business should be structured and even guide you in the loan winning process. While those tasks might seem like questions Google has the answers to, you’re paying an accountant for his or her expertise, not just the ability to work with the numbers. Accountants serve hundreds of clients a year, which includes businesses of all sizes. An expert offers feedback specific to your industry and financial situation.

3. If you’re feeling stretched thin

When you’re building a business from the ground up, it’s easy to end up wearing all the hats: HR, accounting, product development and more. As head honcho, your time is extremely valuable and running the books shouldn’t be taking the lionshare of your time. You have more important things to do — making strategic hires, building connections both in the community and industry, and vision casting for the company. Finance-related tasks, like processing payroll and preparing for tax season, are easily delegated to a professional.

For example, your coffee company launched canned cold brew for the first time a few months ago. However, the profit margins per unit aren’t as high as you’d like them to be. Instead of gathering the data, building the report and then seeing where you can cut costs, allow an accountant to provide you the finished report, so you can spend time making the important decisions and delegating other tasks to your team.

It can be challenging to give up control when it’s your business. It’s your baby, you started it from scratch! But a reality check will tell you that the most successful businesses don’t magically have the capacity to do it all themselves. An accountant brings the skills and data you need to make the right calls for your company without spending all your time crunching numbers.

4. If you’re ready to grow

While accountants can assist with your business’s regular financials, the advice of an expert can also help you reach your business goals. All you have to do is bring your vision. They’ll bring the numbers.

Whether its opening a second location or debuting a new product, an accountant can provide a break-even analysis that accounts for your fixed costs, variable costs and market conditions throughout the year. This analysis will help you decide if the venture is worth it.

Additionally, an accountant provides both the 10,000-foot perspective and the minute details to help you see all sides of your company. Plus, they’ll help you take the emotion out of making good financial decisions so you can objectively reach your goals.

5. If you have to pay taxes

Everyone has to pay taxes, and unless your taxes are incredibly simple, chances are you would benefit from an accountant’s help. In fact, for businesses, tax season is year-round. Whether it’s paying estimated taxes or keeping your records in order in case of an audit, there’s always something you — or rather, your accountant — can be doing to prepare for the mid-April deadline.

Due to COVID-19, many businesses have slashed their workforces and are relying heavily on independent contractors, who get different tax documents. Additionally, the pandemic has forced most businesses to invest in an ecommerce platform, which means potentially reaching a wider audience. Taxes get tricky when you’re shipping out-of-state. An accountant can guide you through both of these COVID-related tax concerns in addition to helping you minimize your tax bill through applicable tax breaks and tight bookkeeping.

6. If you’re going to sell

Once you get past the startup stage, you might start to consider what your business is worth. An accountant can assist you in determining its value and a succession plan. Knowing your worth is especially valuable if a larger company likes your innovative idea and wants to buy you out. In those types of negotiations, you’ll definitely want an accountant on your team. What’s even better is an accountant that you’ve worked with for an extended period of time. 

By finding an accountant now and developing a working relationship with them, you’re investing in your business’s future, be it enduring a storm or making it big.

The post Does Your Startup Need an Accountant? Here’s How to Tell appeared first on KillerStartups.

12 Ways to Encourage Your Team to Speak Up 24 Sep 2020, 8:00 am

Communication is a skill that all successful leaders need to acquire and maintain — not just in business, but also life. Having the ability to speak in a calm, concise, and clear manner will help your team be able to do likewise. Sharing your vision, goals, and expectations is only one piece of the puzzle. It takes an accomplished communicator to encourage a team to speak up. After all, excellent communication helps strengthen relationships, allows the exchange of ideas, and assists your organization in overcoming barriers. There are 12 ways to encourage your team to speak up.

Unfortunately, a study from VitalSmarts shows that “one percent of employees feel “extremely confident” when it comes to voicing their concerns in the workplace at critical moments.” Additionally, “a third of employees say their organizations do not promote or support holding crucial conversations.”

How can you change these types of statistics? Start by implementing the following 12 techniques.

1. Get to the root of the problem.

The absolute first step you need to take is identifying why people aren’t raising their hands. If you don’t know why, then how can you fix the problem? It’s like if your car doesn’t start when you leave in the morning. You can’t repair a problem unless you know precisely what’s wrong in the first place.

You could interview your team or conduct focus groups. Someone other than you should do this interviewing, as they’re probably afraid to tell you why they don’t raise their hands. You could also issue surveys to get to the bottom of what’s going on. The issue may be because they’re afraid of being criticized by others on the team, or being overlooked for a promotion. Or, they may not understand what you expect from them.

In short, you need to find out what’s holding people from voicing their opinions. Then you can find ways to correct the course.

2. Don’t overwhelm your team.

Let’s say that you have everyone gathered for a team meeting. Without even giving attendees a chance to get settled, you bombard them with way too much information. Even worse, what if the assignments you’re throwing at them are abstract, complex, or even utterly boring.

If every member of your team has their head spinning, or they’re yawning, then they’re not going to be engaged. How can they ask questions or provide input when they don’t know exactly what’s happening? Or, they don’t even have the opportunity to participate because as the CEO, manager, or boss — we’re jumping from topic to topic too quickly.

Whenever presenting information, keep it as simple as possible. Skip the jargon and only focus on the top one or two issues. Remember, you don’t need to cover everything right now. Save the less critical stuff for another time.

3. Apply radical candor.

Kim Scott, a former executive at Google, coined the phrase “radical candor.” It may sound like a complex system. But, in reality, it’s merely creating a bs-free zone.

“Radical candor is clarity offered in the spirit of genuine support, where people feel it’s their responsibility to point out one another’s weaknesses to give them a hand up to the next level,” explains Grainne Forde on Teamwork.com. “Scott illustrates radical candor with an example in which her very inconsiderate boss told her she had a lousy speaking habit.

Scott was saying, ‘um’ too often. In front of the group, he told her that “um” made her sound unintelligent — and then offered to pay for a speaking coach to improve the problem.” Some would consider this a bit harsh, “her directness compelled her to take the feedback seriously and improve.”

I’ve found the degree of “radical candor,” Scott is talking about, should be saved for a one on one. Then after your “radical candor,” hand out a little extra encouragement. With one small compliment, your employee doesn’t consider you an enemy.

To achieve radical candor, both leaders and employees need to realize that feedback is constructive because it allows for growth and development. Additionally, there needs to be transparency. It’s the only way you’ll be able to assist them in working through their weaknesses.

4. Reward people for speaking up.

I vividly remember the first year I went away to a summer camp. The first couple of hours, I was fine. But, I became incredibly homesick later that night. After a couple of days, I was over my bout with homesickness and had no problem enjoying myself.

Towards the end of the week, the other kids in my group began discussing who would receive an award along the lines of, “camper of the week.” I suggested that maybe I would get nominated. This lead to the camp leading asking, “Why? You were homesick and didn’t say anything for a couple of days — and now you talk?”

Some people might think that he was out of line. But, he was right. Sure, I was engaged and did my best to be an ideal camper. But, that didn’t mean I deserved an award. At the same time, the person who did receive this award mentioned that they were proud of me. Now, that recognition was an awesome feeling.

My point is this. You don’t need to throw a party for an employee who asked a question during a meeting. But, you can still show them that you appreciate their contribution when they offer a comment. For example, if they make a high point during a meeting, genuinely thank them for participating. A genuine thank you can be two words. Thank you!

Hemant Kakkar and Subra Tangirala write in the Harvard Business Review, “[I]f you want your employees to be more vocal and contribute ideas and opinions, you should actively encourage this behavior and reward those who do it.”

5. Make meetings more engaging.

Meetings can be a serious time-waster. They can also crush productivity and morale when not when properly. However, there times when meetings are necessary. That’s why making them more effective should be a priority.

While there a multitude of ways for you to improve meetings, making sure that they’re engaging should be at the top of your list. You can achieve meetings worth showing up for, by:

  • Kicking things off with an icebreaker like telling a story or playing a fun game or activity.
  • Not using industry slang or terminology.
  • Asking invitees to leave their phones somewhere else.
  • Saving handouts until the conclusion of the event to avoid distractions.
  • Leaving time for a Q&A at the end.
  • Sending out an agenda in advance so that no one is surprised. Also, this gives invitees an opportunity to review any relevant information and prepare their questions or concerns.

6. Stop dominating the conversation and listen.

While I wouldn’t say this trait is part of all entrepreneurs — I do think that some of us have such a healthy ego that we love hearing ourselves talk. The problem is that if you’re always dominating the conversation, others won’t even bother chiming in. What’s the point when they know there’s hardly a chance to be a part of the discussion.

While there are times when you need to speak, work on talking less and listening more. It may take some practice. But, this is probably one of the most straightforward strategies to get your team to speak up more often.

7. Be aware of body language and power cues.

Body language and power cues are probably not something on the top of your mind. But, your nonverbal communication most definitely impacts the people around you. Think of it this way. How likely would you be to “willing” share your thoughts with a leader who is continuously frowning and standing there with their arms crossed? Probably very unlikely.

But, what if they smiled, made eye contact, and stood in a relaxed, upright posture? You wouldn’t feel as intimidated. A quick couple of words about mastering your body language — soften power cues. For example, leave the expensive wardrobe at home and wear something that doesn’t intimidate your employees. Consider replacing your office’s rectangle desk with an oval one so that you can sit next to them.

8. Boost teamwork.

“When employees work in teams, they actively practice sharing their thoughts and speaking up to accomplish tasks as a group,” writes Eric Friedman over at eSkill. “This gets them used to talking about their work, whether it’s sharing new ideas or concerns, and can be applied on a wider scale to the entire company.”

Fridman adds, “Teamwork also works on a psychological level by bringing employees closer together, helping them form bonds to each other and the work, which will help them feel more confident to speak their minds.”

9. Accept different types of feedback.

When you need to collect feedback, use a variety of methods to do so. Allow your team to express themselves; however, they’re most comfortable. If they have no problem speaking, then don’t force them to write down their thoughts. If they don’t want to discuss a sensitive issue out in the open, block out time for a one-on-one or place a suggestion box in the office.

10. Explain the consequences of participating.

Explaining the consequences of participating does not mean retaliating against employees whenever they share their thoughts. Nor does it indicate that you’ll punish those who aren’t contributing to the conversation. Instead, a consequence in this setting means letting your team know the importance of speaking up.

For example, what if an employee isn’t crystal clear on a task that was assigned to them during a meeting? They might be embarrassed about asking for more details in a meeting. But, by not raising their hand, they aren’t able to complete this responsibility, and likely there were a few others that didn’t get the information. As a result, this can impact not only their career, but also this action can put the rest of the team and organization in jeopardy.

11. Encourage them to take a public speaking class.

In the early days of my career, I was terrified about speaking in public. But, this was a fear I had to overcome. So, I took a public speaking class. Not only did it improve my speaking skills, but it also made me feel more at ease in front of a crowd.

If there are members of your organization, why have nightmares about public speaking, recommend that they also take such a class. It could be online, at a community college, or through an organization like Toastmasters. Here: 7 Powerful Public Speaking Tips From One of the Most-Watched TED Talks Speakers

12. Lead by example.

Do you think that your team will feel comfortable enough to speak their minds when you aren’t? Of course not. It may sound off a vibe that this isn’t an environment where people can openly share thoughts and ask questions.

While you should certainly listen to what others are saying, the other part of being a great communicator is clearly expressing your expectations. It’s also asking precise questions and not being shy when it comes to public speaking.

Moreover, don’t hide in your office all day. Walk around and chat with your team. Check-in with them to see how they’re doing and if there’s anything you can help them with. Go to lunch. These connections may not seem like a biggie, but the relationship shows that this is a workplace where people can comfortably speak up.

12 Ways to Encourage Your Team to Speak Up was originally published on Calendar by .

The post 12 Ways to Encourage Your Team to Speak Up appeared first on KillerStartups.

The Benefits of the Pomodoro Technique 22 Sep 2020, 8:00 am

As I began exploring ways to boost my productivity I kept hearing people rave about something called the Pomodoro Technique. I’m sure that you’ve come across this as well. And, for good reason. It’s not only effective, but it’s also one of the easiest hacks to implement.

The Pomodoro Technique explained.

For the uninitiated, the Pomodoro Technique is credited to developer, entrepreneur, and author Francesco Cirillo. He discovered the importance of time tasks while a student at Guido Carli International University, a business school in Rome, during the early 1990s.

“I was easily distracted and unable to focus,” he previously told Entrepreneur. “So I decided to give myself a challenge: study without interruption for 10 minutes.” To accomplish this, he used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to track his time.

After some trial and error, Cirillo found that this method was successful in helping him improve studying. He eventually went on how to share this idea with others. And, he was gratuitous enough to write and distribute a free book as well.

Named after the Italian word for tomato, the Pomodoro Technique is pretty straightforward. In fact, it only involves five some steps:

  • Choose a task.
  • Set a timer for 25-minutes.
  • Work on the task until the timer goes off.
  • Take a short break — usually around 5-minutes.
  • Every 4 Pomodoros, which is 3-4 work periods of 25 minutes, take a longer break — typically between 15-30 minutes.

You’ll want to repeat this process throughout the day. It’s also helpful to mark your progress with an “X” whenever you finish a Pomodoro. And, you may want to also note how often you wanted to procrastinate or work on something else. And review this at the end of the day

From my experience, you can make adjustments as you go along. For example, you can block out time for undisturbed work for however long you want. It depends on when you’re most productive based on your ultradian rhythms. Some folks work in 30-minute blocks, while others push an hour.

The concept, however, is that you work in sprints followed by short breaks throughout the day. As a result, you’ll be more productive because it will help you achieve the following.

1. Makes you feel more valuable.

Time. It’s your most valuable asset because once it’s spent, it’s gone. And, because of that, the Pomodoro Technique assists you in getting the most out of your precious time.

On the surface, this could be monetarily. Case in point, you’re working on a flat rate project. How? By ensuring that you maintain a profitable hourly rate. See, with the Pomodoro Technique you can plan a balanced outcome by knowing the time you’ll need to complete the project.

As a result, you’ll meet deadlines, exceed expectations, and keep your promises. Not only is that good for business, but also for your self-worth.

Speaking of that, if you can block out your time more effectively, you’re in a better position to provide value. That could be delivering quality work on a consistent basis or finding the time to serve others. When you do, you’ll be happier because you’re more fulfilled.

2. Improves planning.

Productivity doesn’t just happen with the snap of a finger. That’s why you need to plan your ideal week if you want to get more done in less time. And, I’ve found that the Pomodoro Technique makes this a whole lot easier.

Let’s say that you have identified your top priorities for the week ahead. You would then open up your calendar and add them to your calendar.

For example, you need to write an article for your business for either your site or an outstanding publication like Entrepreneur. Since it has to be submitted on Thursday, you want to have it completed by Monday so that your editor has time to review it.

As such, your Monday could be mapped out as follows:

  • Two pomodori for research.
  • One pomodoro to string together your thoughts and outline the piece.
  • Two pomodori to actually write the article.

Once added to your calendar, you know exactly what to focus on and when. And, you can then keep repeating this process for your entire week. It may sound like a lot of work upfront. But it’s worth the time investment since you can dive right into your most important work.

More importantly, over time, we’ll get better at determining how long certain activities take you to complete. Knowing this will ensure that you aren’t under-or-overestimating your time.

3. Helps you fight procrastination.

Even though you know exactly what needs to get done, and you have every intention to do so, procrastination is always around the corner lurking its ugly head. While it happens to the best of us, if left unaddressed, it can have serious consequences.

For example, it can cause you to miss due dates and fall behind your work, which in turn harms your credibility and adds stress. One way that the Pomodoro Technique can help solve this problem is that provides you with clarity. Again, when you know what to focus on and when you’ll feel less anxious and overwhelmed.

Also, it can encourage you to just get started when you’re dragging your feet. Because 25-minutes is a short time commitment, and it’s the only block you have to complete a specific task, it’s like a game to beat the clock. Besides, once you get moving, it’s much harder to stop.

4. Breaks the habit of multitasking.

In my opinion, this is the main advantage of embracing this concept. Despite what you may believe, multitasking is a myth. The reason? The human brain just isn’t capable of handling more than one thing at a time.

What’s more, multitasking can lower your IQ, impact your working memory, and prevents you from entering a flow state. As if that weren’t enough, this can drain your mind’s energy reserves. And, multitasking gives you a false sense of being productive.

As you’ve probably caught on by now, the Pomodoro Technique forces you to focus on one task at a time. In turn, this will counter the negative side effects of multitasking. And, more importantly, it will help you deliver higher quality work in less time.

5. Let’s you deal with distractions and interruptions.

Distractions and interruptions are inevitable. Even if you take the appropriate steps, like turning off your smartphone, a coworker may come barging into your office with an urgent matter. Cirillo was well aware of this and developed the following approach:

  • Inform. If you’re in the middle of a Pomodoro, let the other party know that you’re currently busy.
  • Negotiate. Agree on a time to discuss the distracting issue.
  • Schedule. Add that follow-up to your calendar immediately.
  • Call back. When a Pomodoro is complete, contact the other party and tackle the issue.

What about internal distractions? You know, what if in the middle of your work you remembered that you needed to send an email? Jot it down and then send the email during your break.

6. Maintains motivation.

Whenever you complete a session, you mark your progress. For example, you could simply cross off an item on your to-do-list. Why’s that important? Every time you do this, you get a rush of dopamine, which will encourage you to repeat the behavior.

For others, they’re just simply motivated by beating the timer. If they only have five minutes to go, they’re going to turn up their average speed to complete the task on-time.

7. Decreases physical and mental fatigue.

Finally, the Pomodoro Technique encourages you to take breaks. That’s something that most of us take for granted. However, we need these frequent breaks to combat a sedentary lifestyle by stretching or going for a short walk.

Furthermore, the brain needs time to rest and recharge. So in-between work blocks, allow your mind to wander. You could also meditate, reflect, or do something that you enjoy like watching a funny video or exercising in your office.

When you return to work, you’ll be more focused, attentive, and energetic. And, because these breaks are timed, it’s easier to resist the urge of extending them.

Getting started with the Pomodoro Technique.

If you want to try out this method, you just need to block out your day into 25-minute work sessions with short breaks in-between. You should also keep track of what you accomplished. But, there’s one missing component, your timer.

If you prefer, you can stick with a plain old egg timer. You could also one the timer on your phone. Or, you could use tools and apps like Tomato Timer, Marinara TimerForest, or Focus Time.

The Benefits of the Pomodoro Technique was originally published on Calendar by .

The post The Benefits of the Pomodoro Technique appeared first on KillerStartups.

Salad Lets You Earn While You’re Idle 21 Sep 2020, 9:27 am

You’ve invested in a pretty awesome gaming setup, but aside from a few hours of dedicated gaming, it just sits there. Wouldn’t if be cool if it could provide a return on investment when not being used? The creators of Salad Technologies, Inc. thought the same thing, and created Salad in 2018. Built by gamers with gamers in mind, this app allows you to mine cryptocurrencies while you’re away from the keyboard.

Salad Technologies, Inc. is a blockchain startup focused on powering blockchain and crypto through a decentralized infrastructure fueled by PC gamers. The Salad app blends the worlds of crypto and gaming in one app, and aims to be the easiest, most trusted way to monetize your PC’s idle resources.

Salad streamlines the crypto mining experience and has no need for the normal hassles involved with crypto mining, such as crypto-wallets or intricate PC configurations. With Salad, gamers can mine crypto in their downtime, and turn their GPU power into credits that can be spent on items like games, subscriptions, gift cards and more. Here’s how it works:

Features

  • Free app: Salad is a free, open-source mining app. Users download and install the app and run it while they’re AFK to earn Salad Balance.
  • Mine crypto: Salad makes it easy to mine cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum, BEAM, Grin, Monero, Vertcoin and BTC Gold. The app uses your PC’s power to determine which coin is most profitable for you to mine.
  • Complete offers: Users can also answer quizzes, take surveys and test apps through AdGate, AdGem and OfferToro. Offerwalls are a great way to boost your Salad Balance if you can’t run the crypto miner or want some extra rewards on top of your earnings.
  • Storefront: Once users have built up their Salad Balance, they can redeem items from the Salad Storefront for games, gift cards, hardware and more. Items include Prepaid VISA Cards, Amazon Credit, Discord Nitro, Game Codes, and other awesome rewards. You don’t have to enter your credit card info – your Salad Balance is all you need!
  • Referrals: With Salad, when you invite your friends and family to join the app, you receive a 50% earnings bonus based on your referee’s Salad earnings, up to $1 per referral. This is paid out to you incrementally as that person mines. The more people you invite, the faster you can earn your bonus.
  • SaladPay: For business owners, Salad Technologies, Inc. provides a convenient microtransaction payment gateway that lets PC gamers make purchases on their website without needing a credit card. This removes minimum purchase restrictions, provides lump sum vendor payments with detailed sales reports, reduces fraud with no chargebacks, and even increases conversion and allows visitors to earn purchases.

Interested?

If you’re a PC gamer who wants to make the most of your gaming equipment when you’re not using it, Salad is a great option. Whether you want your system to mine for data while you’re idle, or you want to take part in some awesome offers, Salad makes it easy to earn a balance and buy items you’ll love. Head over to salad.io to learn more about how you can AFK the smart way.

Photos
Salad.io

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Determine Whether Working With a Friend is a Good Idea 17 Sep 2020, 8:00 am

There’s no way to sugarcoat this; starting a business is no easy task. You wear multiple hats; you’re continually building clients, don’t forget networking. If you’ve built many businesses, as an entrepreneur — you understand the very real possibility of failure. But how do you determine whether working with a friend is a good idea?

Indeed, it’s a wonder that anyone would ever contemplate starting their own business. But, as Jimmy Dungan said in A League of Their Own, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it weren’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

There are plenty of entrepreneurs who have decided to make this journey just a little bit easier — by teaming up with someone else. For example, Bill Gates had Paul Allen, and Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak. The reason? Each partner brings something different to the table — whether that be different skill sets, lessening the workload, or having additional access to funding.

Maybe you want someone to gripe to, or someone to run your ideas past and have a second set of eyes on a project.

But, instead of approaching a stranger or acquaintance, why not just go ahead and start a business with a friend? After all, it worked for Gates and Allen and Jobs and Wozniak. There have been many famous entrepreneurial teams. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, and William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson — so why can’t it work for you and your friend?

Well, before you and your best friend get too far ahead of yourselves, you both should take a close look at the good and bad of working side-by-side with a friend.

Why You Should Start a Business With a Friend

You have a co-founder that you know and trust.

After spending years being acquainted with your friend, you know what their belief systems are, how they react to specific situations, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. You also know how to get under each other’s skin, so hopefully, you’ll avoid triggering those emotions while in the workplace.

More importantly, they are someone you trust entirely — and know that they would never intentionally do you any harm. What more do you want of a co-founder or colleague?

As Stephen Covey said, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

You can speak freely and comfortably.

When you have a trusting and honest friendship, you can pretty much say whatever’s on your mind freely and comfortably. Sure. There will be times when they’ll say something that you don’t want to hear — or that you don’t agree with — but you know what they’re saying is genuine and sincere.

As a result, you can keep each other in-check since you’re calling each other on your BS and ultimately do what’s best for the business.

Creates a positive work environment.

Having friends at work can be extremely beneficial. 70 percent of employees believe having office friends is the “most crucial” aspect of obtaining a fulfilling work life. What’s more, office friendships lead to higher engagement and productivity and a stronger connection to the company.

You have someone to bear your burdens.

Starting a business on your own, as already mentioned above, it no easy task. It can also be incredibly lonely.

But, when you have a friend by your side, you eliminate this loneliness. More important, you have someone to share your burdens with your — whether that be financial or completing tasks on-time. And, because they’re going through everything you are, you can vent to each, celebrate accomplishments, and even throw a couple of drinks back after a particularly challenging week.

You share the same vision.

Friends tend to think alike — that’s likely why you became friends in the first place. You and your friend being able to think alike is actually a great asset for your business.

You likely have the same goals, values, and vision for your business. Thinking alike can come in useful when you’re pitching an idea or your business to a client, prospective customer, or interested investors. If you know what your partner-in-crime is going to say next, then you can set them up seamlessly.

Decisions are easier to make.

As I just mentioned, friends tend to think alike and have a similar vision and belief system. That can make it easier to agree on business decisions — even if you have a different opinion personally.

Remember, spending too much time making a decision isn’t just time-consuming, it can also drain you mentally. You want to save that energy for more important decisions.

They accept your strengths and weaknesses.

Let’s say that public speaking isn’t your thing, but you’re one heck of a coder. But, your friend is charismatic and loves speaking. Instead of them asking you to pitch your business to an investor or at a conference, they would instead ask you to make a killer website to impress others. They also wouldn’t get upset or frustrated in areas that you’re weak — and vice versa.

Simply put, you accept each for you are. As a result, you can leverage each other’s strengths and improve on your weaknesses.

More friend time.

When you work with a friend, it sometimes doesn’t feel like work at all. You get to shoot the breeze, have fun, and create memories. As a result, going to work becomes more enjoyable and relieves stress.

Why You Should Not Work With a Friend

It can be hard to distinguish between work and play.

At the same time, chatting and hanging out all day isn’t always great for productivity. Instead of focusing on work, you’re busy talking about a movie you watched over the weekend. On the flip side, when you’re outside of the office, you may start talking shop instead of just enjoying each other’s company.

No matter how much you love your business, you both need to set boundaries and separate work from play.

Also, you may let workplace difference spill over into your personal lives. For example, if you and your friend are disagreeing on the direction of the business, and it becomes heated, that could make your social life a bit awkward.

Familiarity breeds contempt.

As friends, you probably know a lot about each other. But, knowing too much of others can erode respect.

For example, if you don’t agree with the lifestyle your friend is living, you may feel that they’re someone you shouldn’t work with. Even despite the fact they’ve shown up to work every day bringing their A-game.

Who’s the boss?

Even if you’ve agreed on established roles, it can still be tough to take orders from your friend — and they probably feel the same. As a result, there may be a power struggle.

You must compartmentalize relationship issues.

Friends fight. But, you can’t let those little personal squabbles interfere with the business. No matter how ticked you are at each other — you must remain professional and discuss any disagreements calmly and rationally.

In other words, you need to learn how to compartmentalize any relationship issues you have. Just because you’re at odds personally doesn’t mean that you’re currently at odds with your business partner.

Performance issues can be awkward to address.

When an employee isn’t delivering the results you expect, the conversation isn’t complicated. You have a conversation with them, determine what the problem is, and discuss the ways that they can be more productive.

That conversation isn’t so straightforward with your friend. You may be too empathetic, or they’ll take what you’re saying too personal. It may be an awkward conversation, but it’s necessary if you want your business to thrive.

Friendships don’t always translate to business compatibility.

Sure. You and your friend may share similar values and philosophies. But, you may have completely different approaches to completing various business tasks. That can lead to conflict and when trying to build your business model and company culture.

You know the same people.

Networking is critical when starting a business. But, how much networking can you do when you and your partner know the same people?

Networking may be a greater challenge, but knowing how to find and establish new connections may not be challenging.

A failed business can lead to a failed friendship.

If you fail in this business venture — it can be the absolute worst-case scenario.

Let’s say the business fails, and you blame each other for the failure. You didn’t just lose business; you also lost your friend.

If you’re still on the fence about working with a friend, here are some questions you should ask yourself. Determinations will become more apparent with questions.

  • Do you share the same business goals and values?
  • Do your work habits and schedules align?
  • Can you complement each other’s skills and talents?
  • What roles and responsibilities should each partner take-on?
  • How will you resolve conflicts?
  • Are your personal lives stable?
  • How long have you known each other?

Just make sure that you cover all of the topics to do with your business that you can think of. A first business venture is usually the one that friends get together in. You want the best from your first business venture. Take the time to set up all of the parameters so that you and your friend can remain great partners through thick and thin.

Determine Whether Working With a Friend is a Good Idea was originally published on Calendar by .

The post Determine Whether Working With a Friend is a Good Idea appeared first on KillerStartups.

7 Team Building Exercises to Improve Team Morale 17 Sep 2020, 8:00 am

If you want your startup to succeed, your team needs a sense of motivation and morale. There are many small, individual steps you can take to improve motivation and morale. For example, you can promote from within so employees feel like they have a future at your company. You can issue salary increases, raises, and bonuses to incentivize hard work. And you can create a healthy work culture, where your employees feel safe and feel a sense of belonging every day.

But if you want to reinforce that sense of belonging and make your team feel even more motivated, you’ll need the help of occasional team building exercises.

Hallmarks of Effective Team Building Exercises

Team building exercises could refer to any kind of meetup, event, or exercise where your employees are encouraged to work together—or at least, experience the same kind of event simultaneously. These events work by giving employees something fun or interesting to do (other than typical work), giving them an opportunity to relieve stress. They also have the effect of bringing employees closer together, creating bonds that can ease collaboration in the future.

Accordingly, some of the best team building exercises have the following in common:

  • Something fun. The best team building exercises are fun. They’re not supposed to be stressful, and they shouldn’t feel like work.
  • Something unusual. If you do the same thing every week, it’s eventually going to become stale and start to feel like a natural routine.
  • A collective goal. One of the best perks of team building exercises is that you’re all working together on the same shared goal. This aligns your motivations and forces you to find new ways to collaborate.
  • An opportunity for individual interaction. Good team building exercises also offer an opportunity for individual interaction. Your team members can engage with each other to solve a problem and discuss the issue.
  • Regularity. It’s also a great idea to host team building events on a regular basis. For example, you could have a team building event on the third Friday of each month. This gives employees something to look forward to.

Team Building Exercises to Consider

Here are several examples of effective team building exercises to consider:

  1. Kayaking (or other outdoor events). Kayaking allows your employees to get some exercise and enjoy the great outdoors (assuming the weather is good enough to support it). Plus, if you pair off your employees in teams of two, you’ll force them to work together to propel and steer their individual kayaks. You can substitute kayaking with a variety of other outdoor events as well, such as hiking or biking.
  2. An escape room. One popular option is to take your team to an escape room (with everyone wearing masks of course). These businesses provide a room, or sometimes an entire building, that locks people indoors. Together, the people locked inside must find clues, solve puzzles, and work together to figure out how to escape. It’s a fun way to encourage your employees to collaboratively problem solve, and you’ll have something to talk about later.
  3. A shooting range. You could also try out a variety of different firearms at a local shooting range. Shooting firearms is a cathartic feeling, and one at least some of your employees have never experienced before. Together, you’ll be able to refine your accuracy and get a feel for how different weapons aim and shoot. Depending on the shooting range you attend, you may be able to shoot weapons indoors or outdoors, engaging with a variety of different targets.
  4. Solving a murder. If you’re interested in the clue-gathering and problem-solving elements of these team building exercises, consider hosting a murder mystery party. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could put together a storyline and a series of clues for your own creative murder mystery; if not, you could always buy a murder mystery “kit,” with speaking roles and background information pre-written. Either way, your team will have to work together to solve a fictional crime.
  5. Playing board games. Board games are a great mix of collaborative and competitive, so consider hosting a board game night to facilitate bonds between team members. Classic options like Monopoly or Scrabble are passable, but you should also consider delving into modern games, which tend to be more engaging and complex. For example, you could experiment with social deduction games like Mafia or Werewolf, wherein players must bluff and deceive each other to win.
  6. Low-stakes competitions. Consider hosting some kind of low-stakes competition amongst individual employees. For example, you could encourage employees to come up with the best business plan within an hour, then present those business plans in the style of Shark Tank. You could also try less conventional forms of competition, like encouraging teams to build the tallest skyscraper out of marshmallows and toothpicks.
  7. Personal sharing. If you’re into something less intensive, you could try a simple personal sharing exercise. For example, you could have employees sit in a circle and play “two truths and a lie,” a game that requires each person to provide two unexpected truths about themselves and a plausible lie; each other employee must guess which anecdote or “fact” is not true.

How to Make Your Team building Exercises Even More Effective

If you’re looking for ways to make your team building exercises even more effective, consider these approaches:

  • Mix up a variety of different events. Try many of these events, and some of your own choosing.
  • Break up your teams. Make sure your employees get the chance to interact with lots of different people.
  • Start slow, and scale in intensity. Don’t rush into complex or intimidating team building events right away.
  • Get feedback and ideas. Listen to what employees have to say about your events, and ask them if they have any ideas for the future.

With the right team building exercises, you can make all your team members closer to each other and keep your employees motivated—and you’ll get to have some fun yourself along the way. Keep trying new angles and new events, and find what works best for your team.

The post 7 Team Building Exercises to Improve Team Morale appeared first on KillerStartups.

17 Work-From-Home Opportunities Worth Your Consideration 15 Sep 2020, 8:00 am

Work-from-home opportunities don’t pay you to hang at home, but they get pretty close. Between emails, you can raid the fridge, throw a pizza in the oven, or even help your kids with their homework.

But, like most things in life, work-from-home opportunities are not one-size-fits-all. Everyone has their own aptitudes and preferences. Know yourself, and then know your options.

What are the Best Work-From-Home Gigs?

The good news is, there’s a work-from-home opportunity out there for every lifestyle. Take a look at the list below to find one that fits yours.

Best work-from-home opportunity for single moms: Zirtual

Single moms can do it all, which is why they make great virtual assistants. Between managing their kids’ appointments, shuttling them around, and helping them with homework, single moms are already accustomed to doing most of the tasks VAs do.

Working for Zirtual doesn’t require a lot of qualifications, either. As long as you’re college-educated, based in the U.S., and have an internet connection, go ahead and apply.

Zirtual provides on-the-job training, and most of its team members make $12-$16 per hour. Zirtual VAs work for Fortune 500 companies, investors, and mom-and-pop shops.

Best work-from-home opportunity for passive income: Airbnb

If you want to make some extra money and have a space to rent out at home, why not list it on Airbnb? Airbnb hosts make nearly $1,000 per month, on average, simply for giving people a place to stay.

Sure, being an Airbnb host means keeping the rental space clean and tidy. But if you’re already on top of your household chores, it’s not a lot of extra work. Plus, you’ll get to meet people from all around the world in the comfort of your own home.

Best work-from-home opportunity for artsy types: 99Designs

If you know your way around graphic design software, 99Designs can be a lucrative work-from-home opportunity. There are two ways to do it: Either you can compete with other members of the 99Designs community on design challenges, or you can work directly with clients.

Our advice? Start with competitions. There’s no commitment, and you can choose projects that inspire you. Realize that you’ll probably need to enter a few before you start winning them.

Once you’ve won a few contests, brand representatives will begin to reach out to you directly. You can also bring your own clients to the platform, which makes it easy to save and share your work.

Best work-from-home opportunity for recent grads: Tutor.com

It’s hard out there for recent grads. If you’re not sure how to put your education to use but would prefer to work from home, check out Tutor.com. Whether your background is in math, science, history, or some other discipline, you’ll find students in need of support.

Affiliated with the Princeton Review, Tutor.com lets you work as few as 5 hours per week or as many as 29. Plus, you can pick up unscheduled sessions in your spare time.

Why can’t you set up your own tutoring service? You could, but finding clients can be a pain. And once you do, you may have to spend hours tracking down payments. Tutoring on an established platform avoids both time-sucks.

Best work-from-home opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs: Nu Skin

Opportunity platform Nu Skin makes it easy to become an entrepreneur. Nu Skin’s independent brand affiliates sell skincare products directly to consumers in nearly 50 markets. As they build teams, they also have the potential to earn commissions on the products which their team members sell to consumers, which encourages them to mentor the newcomers in their group.

Like other entrepreneurs, Nu Skin’s brand affiliates are responsible for their own expenses, but a unique leg up they have is that they have products that are tried, tested, and supported by a reputable company. Brand affiliates can set their own hours, manage their own teams, and they have the resources and tools to grow their businesses. This helps them be able to have some of the benefits of the gig economy, but have the potential to do more. Brand affiliates engage with customers remotely through social media, in-person meetings, and other platforms.

Best work-from-home opportunity for full-time hours: Amazon

In a lot of cases, work-from-home opportunities offer part-time or inconsistent hours. If you want a full-time job you can do from your couch, check out Amazon. Positions range from sales to software development to customer service.

Because positions range widely, however, so do salaries and benefits. Know your worth, and remember that you can always cobble together a full-time gig from two or more part-time ones.

Best work-from-home opportunity for writers: Verblio

Can you turn a phrase on a dime? Check out Verblio, an online freelance writing platform. Verblio writers pen a range of content, from 300-word blog posts to website copy to e-books. Editing opportunities come up on occasion.

If you want to work for Verblio, you’ll need to have great grammar, research, and content marketing skills. You’ll get to choose industries that align with your expertise, ranging from healthcare to cannabis to real estate.

Best work-from-home opportunity for social butterflies: Arise

Arise’s remote customer service representatives provide support for big-name companies, including Intuit and Airbnb. Earning up to $14 per hour, Arise workers choose their hours and need nothing more than a phone and a quiet space at home.

One plus of this work-from-home opportunity? You’ll never get lonely. The work is a matter of answering questions, triaging support needs, and helping clients deliver exceptional customer experience.

Best work-from-home opportunity for fashionistas: Stella and Dot

Do you want to have a future in fashion, but you can’t pick up stakes for a place like New York City? Stella and Dot’s work-from-home opportunities are second to none.

In a nutshell, Stella and Dot stylists get paid to share and wear jewelry. Many of them sell on social media, while others put on “trunk shows” — which are essentially Tupperware parties for the fashion world.

With that said, Stella and Dot is also a good way to earn some income on the side: More than eight in 10 of them actually hold full- or part-time jobs elsewhere.

Best work-from-home opportunity for multilingual people: Gengo

Are you fluent in two or more languages? Apply to work at Gengo. Gengo is a language translation service that serves Amazon, YouTube, The New York Times, and even the U.S. government agencies.

The company has more than 21,000 translators across all major time zones, covering more than 70 language pairs. Gengo translators earn an average of $417 per month, but income varies depending on customer demand, hours worked, and job availability.

Best work-from-home opportunity for English buffs: VIPkid

If you’re a “word nerd” or love to read, VIPkid has the perfect work-from-home opportunity for you: English tutoring. VIPkid students are primarily Chinese, but because it’s an immersive program, tutors don’t need to be able to speak the language.

Although VIPkid does require a six-month commitment, the pay is good. Tutors earn between $15 and $22 per hour, depending on their prior experience and hours worked. Tutors must be authorized to work in the U.S. or Canada and need a bachelor’s degree, but all majors are accepted.

Best work-from-home opportunity for role-agnostics: Kelly Services

What if you’re a multi-talented person who’ll take pretty much any work-from-home opportunity, so long as the pay is right? Kelly Services is an employment agency that focuses on remote work.

Founded back in 1946, Kelly Services employs almost 440,000 workers. It fills positions in an enormous range of industries, from accounting to automotive to IT to life sciences. Kelly Services fills temporary positions, as well as part- and full-time ones.

Best work-from-home opportunity for healthcare experts: United Healthcare

Although a lot of healthcare jobs must be done in person, a surprising number of them can be accomplished remotely. United Healthcare offers hundreds of work-from-home opportunities, ranging from customer service to clinical care to medical billing.

One of the world’s largest healthcare companies, United Healthcare employs nearly a quarter-million people across all 50 states. Plus, positions in the healthcare industry tend to pay handsomely.

Best work-from-home opportunity for home-decor junkies: Williams-Sonoma

Does a beautifully decorated room make you swoon? Consider work-from-home opportunities with Williams-Sonoma. The California-based retailer sells everything from bakeware to wreaths to barbeque grills.

Most of the remote-work opportunities with Williams-Sonoma are customer service positions. The perks and pay are good, though: Agents start at $12 per hour, with three weeks of paid training from home. They also get a 40% discount on most Williams-Sonoma products.

Best work-from-home opportunity for tech gurus: Dell

If you’re happy to spend all day writing code or troubleshooting consumer tech, a work-from-home opportunity with Dell might be right for you. Dell has team members in more than 15 countries and is consistently named a “best place to work.”

Although most people know Dell as a computer brand, it’s actually a do-it-all tech company. Partnerships with companies like SecureWorks enable Dell workers to get their feet wet in cybersecurity, a notoriously in-demand field.

Best work-from-home opportunity for travel fanatics: Dream Vacations

If you’d like to either be at home or on an adventure, Dream Vacations has work-from-home opportunities you might want to check out. As a franchisee, you get the flexibility of working from home — or on whatever beach you might be enjoying at the time — with the credibility of a brand.

Beware, though, that work as a travel agent is fast-paced. Not only do franchisees need to develop their own client relationships, but they also have to manage bookings and handle billing. To make it a little easier, Dream Vacations provides online training modules and social media support.

Best work-from-home opportunity for tax experts: Intuit TurboTax

If you’re a certified public accountant or enrolled agent, consider a remote tax preparation role with Intuit’s TurboTax division. Intuit welcomes tax experts at all levels of their career, but experience with tax-prep software is a must. Bilingualism is a plus.

One plus of this work-from-home opportunity? Overtime pay around peak times. Because tax preparation is a seasonal industry, home-based tax preparers can make a pretty penny around quarterly tax filing deadlines.

Work-from-home opportunities have never been more plentiful. But as is true of in-person opportunities, you shouldn’t take a position simply because it’s open.

Check out the company, talk to other members of the team, and find the right fit: Yours is out there, and the best part is, you don’t even have to leave your home to find it.

17 Work-From-Home Opportunities Worth Your Consideration was originally published on Due by John Rampton.

The post 17 Work-From-Home Opportunities Worth Your Consideration appeared first on KillerStartups.

4 Ways to Encourage Online Calendar Courtesy 10 Sep 2020, 8:00 am

What’s the only tool I couldn’t live without? That’s a no-brainer. My Calendar.

From my experience, the online Calendar helps me succeed in all aspects of my life. My Calendar keeps track of all appointments and deadlines. In turn, having this information at my fingertips has helped me earn a reputation as someone who is dependable and always honors their commitments.

Outside of work, my Calendar helps me maintain a healthy work-life balance. Besides helping avoid getting burned-out, my calendar has helped me maintain important relationships. If I have family time scheduled — then I’m not going to accept a work-related meetings during that time.

But, the beneficial productivity has been possible because I not only live by my calendar, I’ve also made calendar civility and forward-thinking a priority. And, I’ve encouraged online calendar protocol by following the four strategies.

1. Use the right calendaring tools.

Have you ever wondered why we share things with others? Well, Jonah Berger, author of a study published in Psychological Science, says that it’s driven in part by arousal. In particular, it evokes positive and negative emotions.

“People’s behavior is heavily influenced by what others say and do,” explains Berger. “Whether you are a company trying to get people to talk more about your brand, or a public health organization trying to get people to spread your healthy eating message, these results provide insight into how to design more effective messages and communication strategies.”

Moreover, New York Times report found that the five sharing motivations are:

  • Bringing valuable and entertaining content to others
  • Defining ourselves to others
  • Growing and nourishing relationships
  • Self-fulfillment
  • Getting the word out about causes and brands

While this research focused on content, can this also be applied when sharing your calendar? Absolutely. In particular, when it comes to adding a title or description.

For example, maybe you meet a new lead or land a high-profile client. In order to follow-up or begin a project, you need to meet with your team. You quickly share your calendar containing a message sharing the good news, as well as where and when you’ll have a team meeting.

However, for communication to be effective — you’ll need the right tools. At the minimum, you need an online calendar that works across multiple platforms. Having tools that cross boundary’s means if you’re an Apple user, but everyone else on your squad uses Android, your apple Calendar isn’t going to cut it. You’ve got to have something that integrates and plays well with others.

Use tools that integrate seamlessly with your calendar. For instance, Calendar syncs with Google, Outlook, and Apple calendars. Because of this, it can be used to quickly schedule meetings and organize teamwork — regardless of what calendar your team members are using.

2. Step-up your scheduling game.

If you want to encourage online calendar etiquette with others, then set an example by creating a user-friendly scheduling experience. And, you can achieve that lofty goal by:

  • Responding to invites. No one wants to be left hanging — especially when it comes to protecting their valuable. As such, always respond to calendar invites in a timely manner.
  • Include the location. Whenever scheduling a meeting or location, don’t forget to include the location. It makes life easier for the other party — even if it’s a VA or secretary. If it’s a physical location, you should also include a map so that it prevents tardiness. For virtual events, make sure to attach the phone number or meeting ID.
  • Compose a descriptive title. You don’t need to overstuff the title. But, you shouldn’t be vague either. After all, titling the event only as “Meeting” says nothing. However, “Meeting With Jane to Discuss Dinner Party” lets the attendees know exactly what to expect.
  • Add notes in the description. Just like with titles, you don’t need to go overboard here. But, you should include relevance notes and attachments, like the agenda. Why? It will give the invitees the opportunity to prepare.

And, most importantly, don’t schedule back-to-back events. You need to have buffers in-between events. When you do, participants have a chance to wind down, recharge, and prepare for the next event.

3. It’s okay to say “no.”

I’m going to blunt. Just because you received a calendar invite doesn’t mean you have to accept it. In fact, there are plenty of times when you have to say “no.”

One example would be a meeting request when the topic could be addressed over email. Another would be a meeting that takes place when you’re “off-the-clock.” And, yet another would be if the request doesn’t serve a purpose or has little-to-no value.

Of course, you don’t want to be a brute either. Instead, if you opt to decline an invite, by honest and polite. I mean how would you feel if someone rejected your meeting invite with a reply like, “No way! Stop wasting my time!”? I’m sure that would make you feel crummy.

With that in mind, pay the same respect to others. If your calendar is already full, let them know that. You may also suggest an alternative meeting date or a quick phone call instead. The easiest solution though would be sharing your calendar so that they can see when you are available.

4. Live by the golden rule.

I’m sure that you’re aware of the old adage “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” More simply known as the “golden rule,” it means treating others with fairness and respect.

“There is a lot of good, if emerging, scientific work suggesting people have an innate sense of fairness built into them and that the golden rule captures much of that innate moral sense,” says Kristen Monroe, director of the University of California Irvine Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality. “A lot of people instinctively follow it.”

“I don’t like to be kept waiting, so I try not to be late,” adds Monroe. “I don’t like to be lied to or deceived so I try not to do it, even if it might be more convenient to be just a few minutes late or tell a white lie occasionally.”

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, there are simple ways to follow this rule when sharing your calendar.

  • Show-up on time. If a meeting starts at 1 PM, then you must be their on-time. To ensure this happens, set a reminder in your calendar. I would also avoid scheduling before the event either in case it goes over the allotted time.
  • Don’t make last-minute changes. Things happen. That’s just life. But, unless it’s a life or death situation, never make a last-minute change. If you must cancel or reschedule a calendar entry, give some sort of notice in advance.
  • Don’t micromanage. Why use a calendar if you remind attendees every day that there’s a meeting or deadline due next week? There’s nothing wrong with checking-in or sending the occasional gentle follow-up. But, don’t be a nuisance.

What if someone won’t respect your calendar? While frustrating, try to be empathetic. A great reply if someone bows out of an appointment is, “Hey, we’ve all been there — no hard feelings.” A kind reply will help the other person play their best game and you’ll be on top of yours.

If skipping meetings is a frequent problem with this person — then you can adjust your strategy. If it’s a teammates, try to help them diagnose the problem so that it doesn’t keep happening. Someone else, you need not prioritize your schedule with them.

4 Ways to Encourage Online Calendar Courtesy was originally published on Calendar by .

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12 Ways to Encourage Your Team to Speak Up 8 Sep 2020, 8:00 am

Communication is a skill that all successful leaders need to acquire and maintain — not just in business, but also life. Having the ability to speak in a calm, concise, and clear manner will help your team be able to do likewise. Sharing your vision, goals, and expectations is only one piece of the puzzle. It takes an accomplished communicator to encourage a team to speak up. After all, excellent communication helps strengthen relationships, allows the exchange of ideas, and assists your organization in overcoming barriers. There are 12 ways to encourage your team to speak up.

Unfortunately, a study from VitalSmarts shows that “one percent of employees feel “extremely confident” when it comes to voicing their concerns in the workplace at critical moments.” Additionally, “a third of employees say their organizations do not promote or support holding crucial conversations.”

How can you change these types of statistics? Start by implementing the following 12 techniques.

1. Get to the root of the problem.

The absolute first step you need to take is identifying why people aren’t raising their hands. If you don’t know why, then how can you fix the problem? It’s like if your car doesn’t start when you leave in the morning. You can’t repair a problem unless you know precisely what’s wrong in the first place.

You could interview your team or conduct focus groups. Someone other than you should do this interviewing, as they’re probably afraid to tell you why they don’t raise their hands. You could also issue surveys to get to the bottom of what’s going on. The issue may be because they’re afraid of being criticized by others on the team, or being overlooked for a promotion. Or, they may not understand what you expect from them.

In short, you need to find out what’s holding people from voicing their opinions. Then you can find ways to correct the course.

2. Don’t overwhelm your team.

Let’s say that you have everyone gathered for a team meeting. Without even giving attendees a chance to get settled, you bombard them with way too much information. Even worse, what if the assignments you’re throwing at them are abstract, complex, or even utterly boring.

If every member of your team has their head spinning, or they’re yawning, then they’re not going to be engaged. How can they ask questions or provide input when they don’t know exactly what’s happening? Or, they don’t even have the opportunity to participate because as the CEO, manager, or boss — we’re jumping from topic to topic too quickly.

Whenever presenting information, keep it as simple as possible. Skip the jargon and only focus on the top one or two issues. Remember, you don’t need to cover everything right now. Save the less critical stuff for another time.

3. Apply radical candor.

Kim Scott, a former executive at Google, coined the phrase “radical candor.” It may sound like a complex system. But, in reality, it’s merely creating a bs-free zone.

“Radical candor is clarity offered in the spirit of genuine support, where people feel it’s their responsibility to point out one another’s weaknesses to give them a hand up to the next level,” explains Grainne Forde on Teamwork.com. “Scott illustrates radical candor with an example in which her very inconsiderate boss told her she had a lousy speaking habit.

Scott was saying, ‘um’ too often. In front of the group, he told her that “um” made her sound unintelligent — and then offered to pay for a speaking coach to improve the problem.” Some would consider this a bit harsh, “her directness compelled her to take the feedback seriously and improve.”

I’ve found the degree of “radical candor,” Scott is talking about, should be saved for a one on one. Then after your “radical candor,” hand out a little extra encouragement. With one small compliment, your employee doesn’t consider you an enemy.

To achieve radical candor, both leaders and employees need to realize that feedback is constructive because it allows for growth and development. Additionally, there needs to be transparency. It’s the only way you’ll be able to assist them in working through their weaknesses.

4. Reward people for speaking up.

I vividly remember the first year I went away to a summer camp. The first couple of hours, I was fine. But, I became incredibly homesick later that night. After a couple of days, I was over my bout with homesickness and had no problem enjoying myself.

Towards the end of the week, the other kids in my group began discussing who would receive an award along the lines of, “camper of the week.” I suggested that maybe I would get nominated. This lead to the camp leading asking, “Why? You were homesick and didn’t say anything for a couple of days — and now you talk?”

Some people might think that he was out of line. But, he was right. Sure, I was engaged and did my best to be an ideal camper. But, that didn’t mean I deserved an award. At the same time, the person who did receive this award mentioned that they were proud of me. Now, that recognition was an awesome feeling.

My point is this. You don’t need to throw a party for an employee who asked a question during a meeting. But, you can still show them that you appreciate their contribution when they offer a comment. For example, if they make a high point during a meeting, genuinely thank them for participating. A genuine thank you can be two words. Thank you!

Hemant Kakkar and Subra Tangirala write in the Harvard Business Review, “[I]f you want your employees to be more vocal and contribute ideas and opinions, you should actively encourage this behavior and reward those who do it.”

5. Make meetings more engaging.

Meetings can be a serious time-waster. They can also crush productivity and morale when not when properly. However, there times when meetings are necessary. That’s why making them more effective should be a priority.

While there a multitude of ways for you to improve meetings, making sure that they’re engaging should be at the top of your list. You can achieve meetings worth showing up for, by:

  • Kicking things off with an icebreaker like telling a story or playing a fun game or activity.
  • Not using industry slang or terminology.
  • Asking invitees to leave their phones somewhere else.
  • Saving handouts until the conclusion of the event to avoid distractions.
  • Leaving time for a Q&A at the end.
  • Sending out an agenda in advance so that no one is surprised. Also, this gives invitees an opportunity to review any relevant information and prepare their questions or concerns.

6. Stop dominating the conversation and listen.

While I wouldn’t say this trait is part of all entrepreneurs — I do think that some of us have such a healthy ego that we love hearing ourselves talk. The problem is that if you’re always dominating the conversation, others won’t even bother chiming in. What’s the point when they know there’s hardly a chance to be a part of the discussion.

While there are times when you need to speak, work on talking less and listening more. It may take some practice. But, this is probably one of the most straightforward strategies to get your team to speak up more often.

7. Be aware of body language and power cues.

Body language and power cues are probably not something on the top of your mind. But, your nonverbal communication most definitely impacts the people around you. Think of it this way. How likely would you be to “willing” share your thoughts with a leader who is continuously frowning and standing there with their arms crossed? Probably very unlikely.

But, what if they smiled, made eye contact, and stood in a relaxed, upright posture? You wouldn’t feel as intimidated. A quick couple of words about mastering your body language — soften power cues. For example, leave the expensive wardrobe at home and wear something that doesn’t intimidate your employees. Consider replacing your office’s rectangle desk with an oval one so that you can sit next to them.

8. Boost teamwork.

“When employees work in teams, they actively practice sharing their thoughts and speaking up to accomplish tasks as a group,” writes Eric Friedman over at eSkill. “This gets them used to talking about their work, whether it’s sharing new ideas or concerns, and can be applied on a wider scale to the entire company.”

Fridman adds, “Teamwork also works on a psychological level by bringing employees closer together, helping them form bonds to each other and the work, which will help them feel more confident to speak their minds.”

9. Accept different types of feedback.

When you need to collect feedback, use a variety of methods to do so. Allow your team to express themselves; however, they’re most comfortable. If they have no problem speaking, then don’t force them to write down their thoughts. If they don’t want to discuss a sensitive issue out in the open, block out time for a one-on-one or place a suggestion box in the office.

10. Explain the consequences of participating.

Explaining the consequences of participating does not mean retaliating against employees whenever they share their thoughts. Nor does it indicate that you’ll punish those who aren’t contributing to the conversation. Instead, a consequence in this setting means letting your team know the importance of speaking up.

For example, what if an employee isn’t crystal clear on a task that was assigned to them during a meeting? They might be embarrassed about asking for more details in a meeting. But, by not raising their hand, they aren’t able to complete this responsibility, and likely there were a few others that didn’t get the information. As a result, this can impact not only their career, but also this action can put the rest of the team and organization in jeopardy.

11. Encourage them to take a public speaking class.

In the early days of my career, I was terrified about speaking in public. But, this was a fear I had to overcome. So, I took a public speaking class. Not only did it improve my speaking skills, but it also made me feel more at ease in front of a crowd.

If there are members of your organization, why have nightmares about public speaking, recommend that they also take such a class. It could be online, at a community college, or through an organization like Toastmasters. Here: 7 Powerful Public Speaking Tips From One of the Most-Watched TED Talks Speakers

12. Lead by example.

Do you think that your team will feel comfortable enough to speak their minds when you aren’t? Of course not. It may sound off a vibe that this isn’t an environment where people can openly share thoughts and ask questions.

While you should certainly listen to what others are saying, the other part of being a great communicator is clearly expressing your expectations. It’s also asking precise questions and not being shy when it comes to public speaking.

Moreover, don’t hide in your office all day. Walk around and chat with your team. Check-in with them to see how they’re doing and if there’s anything you can help them with. Go to lunch. These connections may not seem like a biggie, but the relationship shows that this is a workplace where people can comfortably speak up.

12 Ways to Encourage Your Team to Speak Up was originally published on Calendar by .

The post 12 Ways to Encourage Your Team to Speak Up appeared first on KillerStartups.

Calendar Spam is a Problem (How to Fix) 3 Sep 2020, 8:00 am

First, there was email spam. Then came text spam. Now, as more people use digital calendars on their computers and calendar apps on their mobile devices, many people get digital calendar spam. That means more clutter in our in-box from people we don’t know. Calendar invite spam has to stop.

A New Frontier For Spamming

Spammers are always looking for that way in to get their messages or links in front of more people. Now, they’ve found that they can take advantage of Google’s convenient email and calendar integration feature to inundate more people with their junk. Spammers previously went after Apple to exploit a similar calendar invite feature a few years ago.

Created as a way to help Google Calendar users save time with scheduling and meeting invites, the Google Calendar invite feature lets you  automatically add meeting invites to your calendar.  Although the meeting invite only appears as an outline until the recipient selects “yes” or “no,” the meeting invite still appears on a user’s Google Calendar.

The Calendar Invite Spam Threat is Real

Spammers have upped their game with this ploy. When a user clicks on the event description within that meeting invite, it reveals a spam message, which can have malicious links embedded in it. Spammers want users to cllick on those links, of course, because it can lead to the potential of capturing personal information. If a user does click on the link, it tells the spammer that it’s an active email account. From there, the spammer can inundate the user with unsolicited emails.

Except for the spammers, no one, including Google, is pleased with this new scheme. Google has reiterated its privacy policy and focus on protecting its users. Plus, the company has provided guidance on how to address calendar invite spam.

How to Remove Calendar Spam from Your Google Calendar

There are some quick ways to shut down calendar spam notifications from within your Google Calendar.

  1. Open your Google Calendar.
  2. Click on the gear icon, which is located at the top of the Google Calendar page.
  3. Select “Settings” from this menu.
  4. Next, choose “Event settings” from the list located on the left side.
  5. Change the “Automatically add invitations” option to the other choice listed, which is “No, only show invitations to which I have responded.” This means a meeting will only be added to your Google Calendar if you accept the meeting invite.

This process should remove all calendar invite spam from your Google Calendar so you can stop wasting your time opening invites that aren’t real and minimize your risk for becoming a victim of something more malicious.

How to Remove Calendar Spam from Your Apple Calendar

You may also receive calendar spam in your Yahoo Calendar. Yahoo has a very basic process for dealing with these spam Calendar invitations. Yahoo recommends treating the calendar invite spam like normal spam email by clicking the ‘spam’ button.

From there, you have to delete the individual event from your calendar separately. Choose the option that says “Delete” when clicking on the event. Don’t respond to the invitation itself or click any of the notifications within the invitation like where it says “Decline” because this will send a response to the spammer, which is exactly what you are trying to avoid. Then, you can also report calendar invite spam to Yahoo.

Remain Vigilant

Spammers will continue to “innovate” their exploitive tactics by studying new software and app features to get what they want. To slow the pace of spammers’ efforts and perhaps even discourage them, it’s important that we all remain vigilant when it comes to understanding and blocking their schemes.

Here’s to a spam free calendar in the coming years!

Calendar Spam is a Problem (How to Fix) was originally published on Calendar by .

The post Calendar Spam is a Problem (How to Fix) appeared first on KillerStartups.

Calendar Joins List of Zapier Integrations 1 Sep 2020, 8:00 am

We are excited to announce that Calendar joins the list of Zapier’s integration partners. With over 2,000 apps, this means you can access more functionality and tools that help you automate your work and drive greater productivity.

There is an integration for every type of company and role:

Zapier by Role

How Zapier Integrations Work

Automated connections called Zaps set up in minutes with no coding. They can automate your day-to-day tasks and build workflows between apps that otherwise would not be possible.

Calendar Integration Details

Each Zap has one app as the “Trigger.” This is where your information comes from. It causes one or more “actions” in other apps where your data gets sent automatically.

Calendar Triggers

Right now, there is one Calendar Trigger that is supported by Zapier. When your time slot meeting is scheduled in Calendar, Zapier triggers that a new meeting has been scheduled. This information can be used and shared across applications and platforms that integrate with Zapier.

Connecting Calendar to Zapier

  1. Log in to your Zapier account or create a new account.
  2. Navigate to “My Apps” from the top menu bar.
  3. Click on “Connect a new account” and search for Calendar.
  4. Use your credentials to connect your Calendar account to Zapier.
  5. Once that’s done, you can start creating an automation! Use a pre-made Zap or create your own with the Zap Editor. Creating a Zap requires no coding knowledge. You get step-by-step instructions that walk you through the setup.

What’s Possible with Zapier?

One of the first apps available that integrates with Calendar on Zapier is Close, an all-in-one Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. Features include built-in calling, SMS, and email channels.

There is so much you can do with Zapier:

  • Automate appointment and meeting reminders
  • Register leads for webinars
  • Personalize messages for new leads
  • Schedule meetings with prospects, customers, and colleagues
  • Notify your team about new leads and customers
  • Share content across channels
  • Provide automatic calendar adds for upcoming events
  • Notify about changes in the database or a spreadsheet
  • Add content across channels
  • Provide the team with updates, content, and information from surveys or support tickets

The list goes on. The question is — What can Zapier do for you?

But the real question is what can’t Zapier do?

Sign-Up Today!

If you don’t already have a Zapier account, check our Calendar integration page out and sign-up from there. Join now! Here’s where you can sign-up.

Calendar Joins List of Zapier Integrations was originally published on Calendar by .

The post Calendar Joins List of Zapier Integrations appeared first on KillerStartups.

Give or Receive Help for Small Businesses with Small Biz Heroes 27 Aug 2020, 10:38 am

It’s no secret that 2020 hasn’t been the easiest year for a lot of people. Many businesses have been hit hard by COVID-19, and small businesses around the world are at risk of permanently shutting down within a few months. Luckily, people are stepping in to help, including the folks at Small Biz Heroes.

Small Biz Heroes is a global platform connecting small businesses in need with professionals offering free support. It was created as a response to the global health crisis caused by COVID-19, and brings people together to help keep small businesses running.

When a small business, or “small biz,” joins the platform, they’re able to register their businesses and create a Small Biz Project. These projects are created by verified small businesses in need of free support from a professional in order to complete specific business tasks.

Professionals, called “small biz heroes,” are able to join the platform to offer free help to these small businesses using their specific business skills, called “superpowers.” Superpowers include a variety of skills, including those that help small businesses move to and succeed in the digital space, such as social media marketing, graphic design, accounting, website development, career coaching and more.

Small businesses benefit by receiving the free help they need to not only survive but also thrive in today’s economy. Small biz heroes get to make new connections and know they made a big impact in someone else’s life and business.

Features for Small Businesses

Small Biz Heroes offers helpful features for small businesses in need of support.

  • Create an account: As a small business, you can join the platform and register your business as a small business that needs free support.
  • Create a Small Biz Project: On your Small Biz Project page, you can describe your company, your project, and mention which specific superpowers you’re in need of. You can also provide contact information like your website, links to your social media profiles, your location and the language(s) you speak.
  • Search for small biz heroes: You can scroll through the pages of small biz heroes, filter your search by specific superpowers, or search using your own search term.
  • Global: The Small Biz Heroes platform features small businesses and professionals from all over the world.

Features for Small Biz Heroes

Small Biz Heroes makes it easy for business professionals to find and help small businesses in need.

  • Create an account: When you sign up on the platform, you can create a profile that explains your experience, areas of expertise, and what you’re offering to small businesses.
  • Search for small businesses: You can scroll through the pages of Small Biz Projects or filter your search based on the specific superpower you’re offering.
  • Global: The Small Biz Heroes platform features small businesses and professionals from all over the world.

Small Biz Heroes was built on the concept of “Take what you need. Give what you can.” So far, they have helped connect thousands of small businesses across the globe with the free professional support they deserve.

Interested?
Whether you’re a small business in need of free professional support, or a business professional willing to offer your expertise, visit smallbizheroes.co to get involved.

Photos
Small Biz Heroes

The post Give or Receive Help for Small Businesses with Small Biz Heroes appeared first on KillerStartups.

10 Common Sources of Financial Waste at Startups 27 Aug 2020, 8:00 am

Starting a business is an exciting time. But the reality is, one in five startups fail after only one year. One of the biggest reasons? A lack of funds.

Even if entrepreneurs get traction quickly, the first year in business isn’t cheap. There are employees to manage, tools to buy, and investments to make. Even in perfect conditions, funds tend to run thin.

However successful you might be, your funds are limited. As you work to get your business off the ground, make sure these ten key sources of financial waste aren’t sapping your resources:

1. Failing to Take Advantage of Deals

Startups don’t always have to pay top dollar for their materials and tools. Smart entrepreneurs look for sales and find cost-effective alternatives before pulling the trigger on a purchase. 

Get creative to boost your buying power. If you need paper and pens, for example, back-to-school season might be a smart time to shop. For year-round savings, consider joining a group purchasing organization with other startups. Because suppliers prefer to sell in bulk, GPOs can secure discounts that individual companies simply can’t. 

2. Growing the Team Too Quickly

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’ll want to scale your startup as quickly as possible. Act too hastily, however, and you could inflate your labor costs beyond what your young company can afford.

Hiring more employees than you need can spread resources thin without adding a lot to your bottom line. Calculate how much labor you actually need before adding more people to your payroll. Your goal should be to maximize production and minimize salary costs. 

Think, too, about the quality of your hires. Bringing on the first people to knock on your door can deprive you of better candidates. You want to hire the most qualified people you can find, so be patient. It’s better to be understaffed for a couple of months while you wait to find the perfect person for a role than to bring on someone who won’t add much value to your business. 

3. Going Big on Benefits

Taking care of your team should always be a priority. But in the beginning stages of your startup, you simply can’t afford to offer the best benefits on the block.

So how can you attract top talent? Sell them on your vision: What do you hope to achieve? How much do you expect to grow your company, and by what date? How will you reward team members who get in on the ground floor? 

Don’t forget entirely about benefits, though. Choose low-cost ones, such as generous PTO policies and a casual work environment. Hold onto your big-budget ideas until your startup has proven itself and can comfortably afford them.

4. Decking Out the Office 

Entrepreneurs love the idea of having their own office space. The trouble is, desks and chairs alone can cost hundreds of dollars each. 

Don’t worry about the reverse-osmosis water cooler until you have breathing room in your budget. Remember that Apple, Amazon, and Disney all started in someone’s garage. 

You don’t need a lavish workspace to get your ideas flowing. Concentrate on your product or service, and invest in an office space when the time is right.

5. Failing to Plan

Your startup won’t succeed by chance. If you want to build a profitable business, you need to plan it carefully.

Failing to plan is planning for failure. Think through “what if” scenarios, such as:

  • What if my star employee leaves unexpectedly?
  • What if my product doesn’t get traction?
  • What if my supplies are lost, damaged, or stolen?
  • What if a competitor scoops me?
  • What if an investor backs out?

Have a fallback plan, such as a savings account, for your startup. If you’re bootstrapping, don’t put so much of your own money into your company that you’d be destitute if it failed. 

6. Taking on Too Much Debt

In some cases, debt is necessary. If you can’t build your product without taking out a loan, then go ahead and talk to a bank. But if you can invest your own money or offer equity to an outside investor, you should do so. 

There is no bigger source of financial waste than debt. The problem is two-fold: the opportunity cost, and the interest rate. 

When you borrow money, you’ll have less wiggle room if you need to ask for a future loan. And even if you don’t, you’ll pay everything you borrowed and then some back thanks to interest. Startups with too much debt end up using all their profits to pay off the interest — and no profits mean no progress. 

7. Overinvesting in Advertising

Startups need customers to gain their footing. With that said, your first priority must be developing your product. After that, you can worry about marketing it. 

Before launching a marketing campaign, you need to do some research. Not all types of marketing are equally expensive: Email and social media are practically free, while traditional ads can cost thousands of dollars to place. 

To decide on your strategy and channels, ask yourself: 

  • What’s your target audience? 
  • Which platforms would reach them best? 
  • What makes you a better choice than your competitors?
  • How much of your budget should go toward advertising?

8. Forgetting About Taxes

There’s no way around it: Businesses pay taxes. You can lighten the blow, however, if you’re proactive about paying taxes and not reactive. 

When getting your startup going, reserve money from each transaction so you aren’t blindsided by a big tax bill. Set aside roughly a third of each sale — while you might get some back, it’s better to put away too much money for taxes than not enough. And be sure to take advantage of common startup tax deductions

9. Building a Flawless Product

Every entrepreneur dreams of building the perfect product. Unfortunately, by the time they’ve perfected their product, they’re either out of money, or the market has moved on to the next big thing.

While making sure you have a sound product is important, you shouldn’t let it stop you from taking off. Build a minimum viable product, and ask for customers’ feedback to help you improve it. Being nit-picky about your product before it’s even on the market is a waste of time and money. 

10. Buying Brand Gimmicks

A brand is only as good as its products. Unless yours is as good as it possibly can be — and when you’re in the startup stage, it shouldn’t be — forget about branded merchandise. Custom-printed hats and tote bags cost more than you think, and they won’t help you turn a profit. 

What if you’ve promised your investors or family some swag? Start by making some t-shirts. Not only do they cost less than other kinds of printed merchandise, but you can make your own with just a heat press, some plain shirts, and a sheet of colored vinyl. 

To build a profitable company from scratch, you have to manage your money wisely. Don’t let your ego dictate your spending, and you’ll be miles ahead of most new entrepreneurs.

The post 10 Common Sources of Financial Waste at Startups appeared first on KillerStartups.

Time Management Skills Successful Business Owners Must Have 27 Aug 2020, 8:00 am

Time. It’s something that we all take for granted. But, as a business owner, it’s your greatest resource. Without enough time, you’re less likely to achieve your goals. You won’t be able to focus on what’s really important. Less time — adds stress to your already hectic life. And, you can kiss a healthy work-life balance goodbye without it. Here are the time management skills a successful business owner must have.

For the business owner — here are the essential time management skills that you will want to possess.

Work the hours that suit you.

Here’s one of the best things about being your own boss. You can work whenever you want. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can slack off or just come and go as you please. What this means is that you aren’t forced to work that 9-to-5 schedule if it doesn’t fit you well.

For example, let’s say that you’re a parent. Your working hours could be when your children are in school, let’s say around 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. When they’re doing their homework, you could then use that time for administrative tasks or reviewing your calendar for tomorrow.

Another option would be to work around your energy levels. If you’re a morning person, then knock out your most essential tasks bright and early when you have the most energy. Night owls, on the other hand, are more productive in the late morning or afternoon.

What’s more, well have our own ultradian rhythms — which are the body’s rest-activity cycle. But, for most of us, that means that we can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes before we need to take a break.

Keep a time log.

Want to get more done? Then keep a time log so that you can see how you’re spending your time. Additionally, time logging will let you know what your biggest time-wasters are. It will keep you from over-or-underestimating how long certain things take down the road. And, tracking your time encourages you to stop multitasking and hold yourself accountable.

There are actually a couple of ways that you can conduct a time audit. The first would be to track everything that you do throughout the day, such as your morning commute or the time spent on a specific task.

The other way would be to set a timer for every 15 minutes. When the time is up, write down what you did during that block of time.

You could also use time tracking apps and tools like Toggl, RescueTime, or Timely to keep tabs on your digital usage.

Focus on what you do best.

“As much as you need a strong personality to build a business from scratch, you also must understand the art of delegation,” Richard Branson once said. “I have to be good at helping people run the individual businesses, and I have to be willing to step back,” he added. “The company must be set up so it can continue without me.”

When you stop trying to do everything on your own, you’ll not only free up your valuable time. You’ll also make more money. That’s because you have the right people working on the right tasks.

For instance, even if you’re familiar with the basics of accounting or coding, you’re going to spend more time on these tasks, then an expert would. And, you’re more likely to make a costly mistake.

Implement the Two-Minute Rule.

In the famous words of David Allen, “If it takes less than two minutes, then do it now.” Sounds simple, but think of all of those small things that add up. Instead of taking a minute to respond to an email, you wait until the end of the day when your inbox is overflowing. That dish you didn’t wash after lunch? It becomes a dish full of dirty plates.

Furthermore, this rule helps you form new habits. And, most importantly, it can help overcome procrastination. As an example, instead of declaring that you want to read more, start with a small goal like read one page daily.

“The idea is to make your habits as easy as possible to start,” says James Clear. “Anyone can meditate for one minute, read one page, or put one item of clothing away. And, as we have just discussed, this is a powerful strategy because once you’ve started doing the right thing, it is much easier to continue doing it.”

Break your activities down into simple problems.

“Utilizing your consciousness requires more energy and can be avoided by simplifying your problems,” writes Mario Peshev for Entrepreneur. “Excellence in time management revolves around establishing a process and breaking it down into small, atomic operations that are easy to grasp and don’t require intensive resource consumption.” Cutting down your resource consumption is what makes business owners successful. They’re able to take a “complex task and decompose it into pieces, thus making the remaining process easier to comprehend and follow,” adds Peshev. “The simple operations are simple, and executing them doesn’t require dozens of follow-up questions preventing you from checking tasks off your list.”

Don’t fall into the urgency trap.

As a business owner, you have a lot of responsibilities. To make sure that you achieve them, you need to have a system in place. For me, that’s writing down my to-do-list and adding the most important items to my calendar. It’s a simple and effective tactic to make sure that I don’t forget to do anything. And, it allows me to block out time for these actions, so I don’t schedule something else.

Here’s the problem, though. With so many things to do and so little amount of time to get to them — which tasks do I start with? Well, that depends on your specific priorities. These are usually the activities that move you closer to your goals or have a date attached to them. So, your top priorities should always be scheduled first and come before everything else.

Unfortunately, a lot of us get sidetracked by things that are less important — even though they seem deserving of your time and energy. Eventually, your time management and productivity suffer — which is never good for business.

To avoid this, don’t fall into the urgency trap. Identify which items you must do, defer, delegate, and drop. Stick to listing no more than crucial tasks for the day. And focus on your priorities when you have the most energy.

Schedule “me” time.

Scheduling “me time” isn’t a waste of time. Me-time may turn out to be your secret weapon against stress and lack of focus. The more you add to your schedule, the busier you’ll get. Over time you’ll be burning your candle at both ends. As a result, you’ll become burned more. Or, even worse, you’ll be putting your mental and physical health in peril.

Always schedule free time in your day. It doesn’t have to be much. But, if you have an hour of blocked time throughout the day where nothing is listed on your schedule — it can do wonders for you mentally and physically. After all, free time makes us happy, encourages self-care, adds flexibility in our calendars, and recharges our batteries.

Cluster similar tasks.

Switching between tasks all day isn’t practical. It’s chaotic and encourages us to multitask. Think about it. You respond to an email, then rush out the door to speak with a supplier, and then come back to file paperwork. And, in between all that, you have to attend to any problems that your customers or employees are experiencing.

As opposed to jumping all over the place, organize your day by blocking similar tasks together. For example, block out a specific time to clean out your inbox and return call, another to file paperwork, and one more for problem-solving. Depending on your business, you may also need to box out time for meetings, checking your inventory, or testing your products.

Identify and eliminate distractions.

Distractions are the leading cause of poor time management. But, how can you remove them when they’re constantly screaming for your attention?

One way would be to keep a distraction log. It can be as simple as a piece of paper or Word Doc, where you jot down what interrupted you from work and when. For instance, if an employee takes a break at about 10:30 a.m., they may stop by your office to chat with you. The problem is that this is when you don’t want to be disturbed. To correct this, either take a break around the same time or close your office door.

You can also eliminate distractions by putting your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode, installing tools that block distracting websites, or scheduling check-ins or phone calls instead of taking them when you have something else planned.

Arm yourself with the right tools.

Finally, surround yourself with the right tools. An online calendar is an obvious choice. But, you may also want to use a tool like Calendar to automate all of your scheduling needs. Evernote and Todoist care useful for managing your tasks. While Hootsuite, Pardot, and Xero can put your social media, email marketing, and accounting in autopilot.

By using these tools to automate your most tedious and redundant tasks, you’ll have the availability to focus on your priorities.

Time Management Skills Successful Business Owners Must Have was originally published on Calendar by .

The post Time Management Skills Successful Business Owners Must Have appeared first on KillerStartups.

101 Time Management Tips to Make You the Most Productive Boss Ever 25 Aug 2020, 8:00 am

If you want to be the boss, then you need to start acting, thinking, and becoming the boss. Guess what? That takes more than a title or corner office. It’s about being a role model, as well as someone dependable and trustworthy. And, that starts with being as productive as possible.

Becoming the boss is not possible without proper time management.

Here are 101 tips that will help every leader master their time management skills so that they can become the most productive boss ever.

1. Plan your itinerary.

Wait. Isn’t this supposed to be about productivity and not travel tips? You’re right. But, like traveling, time management involves a lot of planning.

You need to know how you’re getting to your destination, what to pack, and the dates that you’ll be gone. You also need to consider lodging and what you plan on doing. I mean, there’s a vast difference between speaking at an industry event in Chicago during January and sitting on a beach in the Caribbean.

Before doing anything else, plan your productivity itinerary by:

  • Establishing realistic goals.
  • Identifying the steps you need to get to get you there.
  • Setting clear expectations.
  • Knowing your priorities and when they need to get done.
  • Anticipating possible roadblocks
  • Surrounding yourself with the right tools and resources.

2. Stop saying that there isn’t enough time.

Eliminate this phrase from your vocabulary.

“Running out of time is mostly a euphemism, and the smart analyst realizes that it’s a message about something else,” Seth Godin wrote on his blog. “Time is finite, but, unlike money, time is also replenished every second.”

“The people you’re trying to reach are always recalibrating which meetings they go to, which shows they watch, which books they don’t read,” wrote Seth. “The solution has nothing to do with giving people more time (you can’t) and everything to do with creating more urgency, more of an itch, more desire.”

3. Establish a consistent morning routine.

What do Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Oprah Winfrey all have in common? Sure. They’re all super successful. But, they also all have a consistent morning routine.

You don’t have to follow their exact morning rituals. But, you should create one that encourages you to have a more productive day. For example, waking-up 30-minutes earlier so that you’re not rushing out the door. You can even use this extra time to squeeze in a workout and eat a nutritious breakfast. It’s a simple yet effective, way to start the day on the right foot while giving you the energy to remain productive throughout the day.

4. Do your heavy lifting in the morning.

You that the one thing that needs to get done today? Or, how about the task that you’re dreading the most? Knock it out first thing in the morning. The reason? We usually have the most focus and energy in the AM. Plus, it builds momentum for the rest of the day. And, best of all, it won’t be hanging over your head for the remainder of the day.

5. Manage your attention, not your schedule.

Chris Bailey, the author of Hyperfocus: How to Be More Productive in a World of Distraction, has found that managing time isn’t a problem. It’s managing our attention.

According to Baily, this is because of distractions — which aren’t our fault. The key is to take back control of these interruptions. Instead of letting minor disturbances, like email notifications, accumulate, we should focus more on things that are productive and meaningful.

“We get more done, dive deeper into our experiences, and notice more meaning around us because we process the world with greater intention,” he writes. “We stop allowing our devices to interrupt us every 40 seconds. And we feel more in control of our lives because we take control of each moment.”

6. Get organized.

The time wasted looking for a misplaced item could have been spent completing a task. Tidy up your workspace and keep it organized. That means whenever you’re done using something, put it back where it belongs.

I’d also set aside a time, like on a Friday afternoon, to do more of your heavy cleaning.

7. Recognize multitasking traps.

Stop multitasking! It’s not only impossible, but it’s also a colossal time-waster. Mainly, this is because you are dividing your attention between tasks. The better option is to focus on one thing at a time.

8. Work the hours that are best for you.

Unless you’re under the control of a Sith overlord, you can set your own schedule. Use this to your advantage by working on high priority and challenging tasks when you’re most productive.

Additionally, create a schedule that can help you avoid distractions and achieve work-life balance. For example, consider going into work as soon as your kids are off school. The office will be quiet enough for you not to get distracted. And, you can even leave early so that you can spend time with your kids.

9. Play to your strengths.

Don’t waste your time on activities where you’re not knowledgeable or experienced. It would take you twice as long, if not more, than if an expert handled them. Just stay within your wheelhouse.

10. Follow the 52:17 rule.

Research from DeskTime has found that the most productive people work for 52-minutes and then take a 17-minute break.

11. Chunk up your week.

“I like to chunk up my workweek into similar tasks on the same day because it makes me much more productive,” says Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran.

“As past behavior is usually the best predictor of future behavior, I find it helpful to sit down each year with my previous year’s calendar in hand. I try to identify repetitive work patterns to help me anticipate work and chunk up my tasks more effectively.”

12. Pursue activities that benefit you personally and professionally.

“Align your professional and personal goals for maximum efficiency.” – Chris Guillebeau

Let’s say that you’ve always wanted to learn a new language. But, instead of just learning any language, why not invest the time in becoming fluent in a language that can benefit you professionally? For example, if you have a speaking gig or plan to expand business in Portugal, then it learning Portuguese would be a good use of your time.

13. Keep a diary or journal.

If you haven’t done so yet, invest a diary or journal. Trust me; it will be money well spent as you can use it to track your time, jot down reminders, and write what you’re grateful for.

14. Focus on outcomes.

To-do-lists and a rigid schedule can come in handy. Both, after all, ensure that you don’t forget about anything of importance. But, they can also stifle creativity.

What does that have to do with productivity? Well, creativity increases neuropathways. In turn, this allows you to “adapt to new situations leading to new ideas, new thoughts, and yes, new solutions.”

15. Solicit feedback.

The thought of receiving feedback can make some of us cringe. In reality, it’s one of the best ways to learn, grow, and improve.

For example, maybe the person-in-charge of your executive calendar notices that you spend way too much time in meetings. If you asked them how you could improve your time management,m then they may suggest to cut back on these types of meetings.

16. Implement the two-minute rule.

Apply “Getting Things Done” author David Allen’s “Two-Minute Rule” to your menial tasks, like responding to emails. If it takes less then two minutes, do it so that it’s out of the way. If not, these small tasks will accumulate and become an overwhelming and time-draining chore.

17. Know when your plate is too full.

Be real with how much you can accomplish in a specific time. If you’re already working at full capacity and your calendar is booked solid for the next month, then don’t accept any more work or meeting invites.

18. Break-up with your bad habits.

Not all breaks-up are bad. Case in point, those that are unhealthy and toxic. I’m talking about neglecting your health, procrastinating, and allowing yourself to get distracted. Eliminate them from your life and embrace healthy habits that will enhance your energy and productivity.

19. Trust “The Process.”

I wish I were talking about the 76ers here. But, it’s a philosophy used by Nick Saban — who just so happens to be one of the greatest coaches in college football history.

He doesn’t have his players focus on winning the championship. Instead, he encourages them to: “Think about what you needed to do in this drill, on this play, in this moment. That’s the process: Let’s think about what we can do today, the task at hand.”

20. Keep a “no thanks” list.

Developed by LinkedIn Influencer Beth Kanter, a “No Thanks” Journal is where you note the situations where you declined a time request.

“Writing it down and reflecting on it regularly not only gave me the words to say “no” nicely to future situations but also helped me push the pause button,” explains Kanter. “This pausing helped me understand situations and patterns where I should change my initial yes to a no.”

21. Download a calendar app.

Calendars, as our very own Angela Ruth points out, are vital to your productivity. “Without your calendar, you’ll have a difficult time remembering your appointments, meetings, events, deadlines, and employee schedules.”

Thankfully, there is no shortage of fantastic calendar apps out there — there are even some great ones pre-installed on your phone. The key is to find a calendar that meets your exact requirements. At the minimum, it should be customizable, shareable, and accessible on the devices you use.

22. Put first things first.

“Putting first things first means organizing and executing around your most important priorities,” Stephen Covey famously wrote. “It is living and being driven by the principles you value most, not by the agendas and forces surrounding you.”

In other words, book your priorities before something else of less importance takes over that slot.

23. Respect thy calendar.

Speaking of your calendar, when you have something penciled in, follow through with it. For example, if there’s a meeting or conference call at 3 p.m., don’t blow it off because you would instead go for a run. Keep the appointment and go for your run afterward.

Respecting your calendar keeps you on track. And, it ensures that you don’t fall behind on your priorities.

24. Ditch your to-do-lists.

Here’s the problem with to-do-lists. They don’t take into account how much time you need to complete a task. As a consequence, you end-up over-or-underestimating how long something will take you.

A better choice would be time-boxing. Time-boxing is where you block out a specific amount of time for a particular task. Not only will it allocate the right amount of time on the right task, but it will also encourage you to remain focused on the task at hand. It also creates a record of what you’ve achieved and can help fight back against Parkinson’s Law.

25. Don’t let your calendar control you.

“Calendar management is the single most important thing, especially as you get busy and have more responsibilities,” says Mary Callahan Erdoes to CNBC. Erdoes is the CEO of JPMorgan Asset Management.

“You have to be maniacally focused on owning your calendar. You must have the lists of what you need from other people and what other people need from you. What are the short-term issues that need to be dealt with? What are the long-term concerns?

“Unless you can stay on top of that religiously, it will end up owning you. That’s not the way to go about staying organized and being on top of things.”

26. Set a time limit on tasks.

You don’t want to give yourself too much, or too little, time here. But, if you know that you only have 30-minutes to get something done, then you’re going to hustle to make sure you beat the clock. Best of all, you don’t even need to use a timer. Just set a reminder directly from your calendar.

27. Keep your calendar updated in real-time.

Did you make a doctor’s appointment? Did a meeting get canceled? If so, update these changes to your calendar immediately. It’s a surefire way to avoid conflicts or wasting your valuable time.

28. Make sure calendar entries catch your eye.

You wake up in the morning and skim your calendar. It appears to be the same routine. But, you completely overlooked something important, like a phone call at 11 a.m. The reason? The entry didn’t stand out.

For notable entries, make sure that they pop. You can do this by giving them a unique title or using title colors or fonts. Now when you glance at your calendar, you won’t miss these essential entries.

29. Keep your calendar clutter-free.

There’s a belief that you should schedule your entire day. I can see the appeal. If you book your calendar in advance, then it won’t get filled up with less critical objectives. At the same time, you don’t want your calendar to be so rigid that there’s no flexibility. Even worse, you don’t want to pack your schedule with nonsense.

The fix? Don’t clutter your calendar with items like standing meetings or those without a purpose. Other things would be minute or automatic tasks, like brushing your teeth, and entries that no longer fit in your schedule.

30. Speak, don’t type.

Just like dictating instructions to an assistant or employee, use your voice to add new calendar entries. Whether if it’s Siri, Google Assistant, Cora, or Alexa, learn common voice commands to reduce the time spent typing.

31. Learn how to prioritize your time.

If you want to become the most productive boss ever, then you need to learn how to prioritize your time. There are a lot of ways to do this. So, I recommend that you read How Do You Prioritize Your Time? 25 Tips for Optimal Time Prioritization for some killer tips.

Personally, though, I’m a big fan of the priority matrix, such as the famous Eisenhower Matrix.

32. Reprioritize throughout the day.

Even if you’ve prioritized your time, things will pop up throughout the day. As opposed to jumping into these headfirst, make sure that either tied to your goals or are critical. If not, either assign them to someone else or schedule them for later.

33. Put the ‘open door policy’ on hold.

I’m a firm believer that the boss should be accessible when needed. That’s why I’m all for open-door policies. But, they can also be disruptive.

When you need to hit the grindstone, close your office door. It may help to share your calendar or place a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door too.

34. Block apps at certain times.

Do you get anxiety just by the thought of being separated by your phone? If so, you may want to block distracting apps when you don’t want to be disturbed. Now your phone can be by your side without you getting interrupted.

35. Find a hideaway.

As I kid, I built a treehouse deep in the woods. When I needed some alone time, I would retreat there for some peace and quiet.

I may not have a treehouse these days. But, I do have hideaways when I want to work without being distracted. It could be an empty boardroom, unused office, or even a coffee shop.

36. Don’t be afraid to say “no” — also if you’ve already said “yes.”

Stuff happens. So, if your priorities have changed, don’t be afraid to say “no” to time requests — even if you’ve previously accepted. Please be respectful, though, and give the other party a head’s up in advance.

37. Master the art of delegation.

I’ve mentioned this several times already. But, you don’t have the time, energy, or skills to do everything. Identify the best person for the job and hand over these responsibilities to them. It’s a simple way to free up your schedule and keep you focused on your priorities.

38. Automate the repetitive.

Do you know all of those tedious and recurring tasks? You know, paying bills, cross-posting on social media, or meeting reminders. They don’t take long to do. But, when put together, they can be a serious time drain. That’s why you should find tools to automate these tasks for you.

39. Leave on a jet plane.

Not literally — unless you’re in desperate need of a vacation or have to travel for business. Instead, take an airplane day.

Credit goes to Bryan Hassin for this genius hack, who noticed how productive he was during an intercontinental flight. “No Internet access, no distractions, just churning through high priority to-do items,” he wrote. By the end of his flight, he has emptied his inbox. Hassin’s also “completed some “creative” tasks like drafting presentations.

To schedule your own airplane days, review your calendar and pick a day or two to go off the grid. I would just let others know that you’ll be unavailable these days by sharing your calendar with them. You’ll be shocked at how much you’ll accomplish when you’re not always interrupted.

40. Reduce decision fatigue.

We only have so much mental energy. So, why waste it on the trivial?

You can reserve your mental energy by having a go-to-outfit, preparing your meals for the week, and getting your team involved in the decision-making process.

41. Don’t pull yourself out of the game.

Did you ever have one of those days when you’re in the zone? It wasn’t planned. You’re ready to rumble and conquer your top priorities? Well, take advantage of that. If you have the energy and focus to work for 12 hours, then go for it.

On the flip side, when you need to take a break, don’t force yourself to stay in the game. It’s like a dehydrated athlete. They need to remove themselves from the game to get some fluids and rest.

42. If you’re not making progress, move on to something else.

Let’s say that you wanted to write a blog post. You have writer’s block, which has resulted in your starring at the screen for over 20-minutes. At this point, cut your losses. Instead of wasting any more time, move onto something else, and circle back when you’re ready to write.

43. Block out time to review your email.

Recently, I asked a colleague if they received an email that wasn’t necessary. The message was a message from Spotify highlighting the year in music. They said they hadn’t received the message because their inbox was a “mess” with hundreds of unread messages.

Don’t let your inbox get away from you. It will eventually become a daunting and time-consuming chore. That’s why you should block-out specific times throughout the day to keep your inbox in-check without distracting you. I do this three times; in the morning before work, after lunch, and before leaving work for the day.

44. Add labels and categories to your inbox.

Here’s the problem with checking your inbox. It’s easy to get sucked into it. What I mean is that you plan to spend just five-minutes checking your messages and then realize it’s been over 20.

An easy way to avoid this would be to add labels and categories. It’s similar to the 4Ds. If a message is essential and will only take a minute to respond, just do it. For urgent messages that require more in-depth responses, reply when you have more time. Important messages needed for reference can be archived. And, anything that’s not relevant should be trashed.

45. Unsubscribe from unwanted newsletters and promotions.

Stop filling your inbox with garbage. Go through and unsubscribe from any unwanted or outdated newsletters and promotions.

46. Monitor your app usage.

Do you know how much time you spend on your phone? If not, I suggest using an app like RescueTime, or go into your Settings and look at your digital wellbeing. When you realize how much time you’re glued to your screen, you can begin to take steps to curb your usage.

47. Turn on greyscale.

Originally designed as an accessibility feature for users with vision impairment, this will turn your screen, well, grey. That will lead to a dull experience when viewing pics on Instagram. And that’s not fun.

48. Delete distracting apps from your phone.

A long time ago, I deleted my social media apps off my phone. And, to my surprise, my productivity went through the roof. No longer was I getting distracted from social media notifications. Or, getting tempted to view my accounts.

Now, when I need to update my accounts, I have to log in from my computer.

49. Stop using your phone as an alarm clock.

Yeah. It’s convenient. But what do you do when you grab your phone to turn off the alarm? You still going through your emails, newsfeeds, social accounts, etc. Instead of getting out of bed to start your day, you end up lying there glued to your phone, wasting precious time.

50. Find an alternative to meetings.

Let’s not sugarcoat this. Meetings suck. Overall, they’re an unproductive waste of time. So, when possible, skip the meeting altogether by using an alternative like a quick email or phone call.

51. Send out an agenda in advance.

What if a meeting is necessary? Make sure that you create and send out an agenda in advance so that everyone can prepare. It will ensure that the meeting starts and ends on time.

Also, make it a rule never to accept a meeting invite unless you’ve received an agenda.

52. Invite fewer meeting attendees.

You know, too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth. The same is true with meetings. Too many participants will lead to an unproductive meeting were side conversations reign supreme. It’s best to invite fewer than eight people to keep the meeting focused.

53. Keep meetings short and concise.

You should also keep your meetings under 30-minutes. There’s no need to keep everyone from their work longer than needed. Besides, that’s around the amount of time that we stop paying attention and learning.

54. Schedule meetings on the right day and time.

How productive is a 9 a.m. meeting on Monday? Probably not very much. One study found that the ideal time was actually at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

55. Stay away from rabbit roles.

“Every meeting tends stray off-topic,” writes Lolly Daskal. “If the subject begins to wander, quickly move back to the agenda.” As the leader, it’s your role “to intervene and bring the conversation back to the topic.”

56. Stand up and meet.

Andrew Knight and Markus Baer of Washington University conducted a study on stand-up meetings versus sit-down meetings. What did they find? Well, standing up during a meeting resulted in better collaboration. It also created more excitement regarding the creative process.

57. Ban electronics from the conference room.

Just like when you’re working, your smartphone is the main reason why you’re getting distracted during a meeting. And, it’s just not you. It’s all the participants.

The quick fix is to ban electronic devices from the meeting. Just ask everyone to leave them in their office. Or. have the participants place them in a basket.

58. Eliminate back-to-back meetings.

Add buffers into meetings. It’s a simple way to avoid running late. And, you can use this time to follow-up and prepare for the next event.

59. Set odd times.

As opposed to starting a meeting at 2:30, consider 2:29 or 3:32. It’s more memorable and so specific that attendees won’t arrive late.

60. Harness the power of AI.

We’re still working on this. But, tools like Calendar use machine learning to make smart suggestions on how to schedule meetings. Sooner then later, it will read the room and record the meeting to automatically take notes.

61. Implement company-wide “No Meetings Day.”

Meetings, as I’m sure you’ve already figured out, are a massive waste of time for you and your team. Tat’s why you should implement a company-wide “No Meetings Day.” For instance, on Wednesday, you make it a rule that absolutely no meetings take place. Now everyone can spend that day working on what’s truly important.

62. Organize your work and week around energy levels.

It’s no secret that productivity is linked to your energy levels. That’s why you’ve heard a million times — “eat the frog” in the morning. The reasoning is that’s when you have the most energy. But, there’s more to it than that.

We also have our own ultradian rhythms, where we can only focus for 60-90 minutes. Afterward, we need to take a break for 30-minutes or so to meditate or walk.

Not only that, each day has a different energy level. Mondays usually suck because you’re coming off the weekend. By Friday, you’re spent. With that in mind, Tuesday and Wednesday are when you’re at peak productivity.

63. Don’t be negligent.

I’m sure that you’re acquainted with the 4Ds of time management. But, what about the 4Ds of negligence?

Granted, this is used in the medical industry. But, it’s also applicable for bosses.

  • Duty. You have a responsibility to follow through with your obligations.
  • Dereliction. Emergencies and the unexpected happen. But, the key is not to let them constantly distract you from your priorities. Also, if you’re not an expert, assign these new tasks to someone who is.
  • Direct causation. If you don’t hold yourself accountable, there will be negative consequences.
  • Damages. What was the cost of your poor management skills? Did you miss a deadline? Lose a client?

64. I’m here to kick ass and chew bubblegum.

I’m not just quoting They Live because it’s a cult classic. It’s been found that chewing gum can boost cognitive abilities and performance. It can also lower stress and even make you more charismatic.

65. Make life easier for you and your assistant.

I highly doubt that you’re not working with an assistant either in-house or virtually. They’re probably already handling your calendar and schedule for you. So, help them help you by letting them shadow you for a bit. Provide them with clear, step-by-step procedures and a list of everything you’ve delegated. And meet with them frequently to go over any changes regarding priorities or procedures.

66. Learn how to speed read.

How would you like to complete all of your required reading in 1/3 or 1/5 the time? That may sound too good to be true. But, it is possible to learn how to speed read. As a result, you’ll save time while continuing to grow and learn.

67. Foresee crisis.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But, things will not always go according to plan. So, get out your crystal ball to see what lies ahead. While you can’t foresee every emergency, try to have a plan for possible emergencies. For example, if you have to leave work, who will step-up in your place? If you had a social media hiccup, what is your crisis management plan?

68. Reconnect with your why.

Periodically, stop and make sure that your efforts are aligned with your goals. If not, they should either be put on the backburner, handed off to someone else, or scraped from your schedule.

69. Delay gratification.

“Our emotional brain has a hard time imagining the future, even though our logical brain sees the future consequences of our current actions,” says David Laibson at Harvard University. “Our emotional brain wants to max out the credit card, order dessert, and smoke a cigarette. Our logical brain knows we should save for retirement, go for a jog, and quit smoking.”

The trick is to strike a balance. For example, you and your team just closed a deal. Savor the moment by going and celebrating. But, don’t overdo by staying out until after midnight. You, and your productivity, are going to pay for it the next day.

70. Make quick calls on small and medium decisions.

As the boos, you’re expected to make hundreds of decisions per day. Here’s the thing, though. A majority of them honestly don’t matter. So, why waste your time and energy, focusing on these small and medium decisions?

In 10–10–10: A Life-Transforming Idea, Suzy Welch uses a simple decision-making system to help resolve this. Whenever you have to decide to make, ask yourself the following:

  • How will I feel about this decision 10 minutes from now?
  • How will I feel about it ten months from now?
  • And in 10 years from now?

71. Work your body.

Are you surprised by this? After all, physical activity is probably the best thing that you could do for your well-being. One study even found that it can improve performance and time management.

Best of all? You don’t need to devote too much time to exercise? Moderate exercise (like going for a 30-minute walk) can help you reap these benefits.

72. Schedule “me” time.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

Even though you have a million things to do, add self-care to your calendar. Do the things that you enjoy doing during downtime. And, don’t be afraid to have some alone time to process everything that’s going on.

73. Get enough sleep.

Don’t kid yourself. A lack of sleep will definitely kill your productivity. The reason? If you’re tired, then it’s just not possible to be at 100%. Make your sleep a priority by maintaining a consistent sleep cycle and establishing a relaxing evening schedule.

74. Don’t skip meals.

You need to eat to refuel. Eating the right meals and snacks can also boost your brainpower, improve your sleep, and keep you energetic throughout the day.

75. Remove the stigma around mental health.

Neglecting your mental health can influence your performance. It can also impact your physical health, which can cause absenteeism and serious long-term health concerns.

There’s nothing to be ashamed about here. Leaders have a lot on their minds — and a lot of stress and anxiety. And, sometimes they need to take a mental health day or speak with a trained professional to help them cope with these struggles.

76. Practice gratitude.

Studies show that gratitude can make us healthier and happier. Another study from the University of Pennsylvania found “that when managers expressed appreciation for the employee’s work, productivity went up significantly.”

77. Get rid of rotten eggs.

Whether if it’s a toxic relationship or chores you can’t stand, remove these from your life. Not only does this drag you down mentally, but it can also be a huge time drain.

78. It makes more sense to live in the present tense.

Instead of harping on the past, or worrying about the future, focus on the present. One way to do this? Practice mindfulness meditation. It can lower stress, enhance your focus, and strengthen tour relationships.

79. Laugh.

It’s true. Laughter can make you more productive. Mainly this is because it reduces stress, helps you re-charge, and boosts creativity. It can also foster a more positive work environment. Just don’t be like Micheal Scott and only tell appropriate jokes.

80. Stop fixing something that’s already broken.

I had a friend who kept repairing his second vehicle. He used it to go to work or run errands like going to the dump. However, he spent so much of his downtime trying to keep this truck on the road. He finally threw in the towel and bought a better vehicle.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a beat-up car, slow computer, or inefficient workflow. You can save a lot of time, energy, money, and heartache by stop trying to fix what’s broken.

81. Set team goals and priorities.

You can keep everyone on the same page, as well as give purpose to everyone’s work by establishing team goals and priorities. Even better, it guarantees that everyone is working on the right thing at the right time.

Remeber. If you help your team with their time management, it will help you with yours.

82. Help employees solve complex issues.

Is there an employee who is consistently missing deadlines. Besides holding everyone else up, it’s giving your company a bad name. Get to the bottom of the problem before it gets any worse.

83. Cultivate a culture of flexibility.

Both you and your employees should work when you’re most productive. You should also permit remote working a couple of days per week. And, avoid micromanaging them. These are simple ways to keep everyone happy and productive.

84. Play games.

Time management doesn’t have to be boring. It can even be a little fun. For example, you and your team could play a game like How Long Is a Minute or Circadian Rhythm to help everyone get a better grasp on time management. It also builds rapport within your business.

85. Improve your communication skills.

You’ve just delegated a task to someone else. You didn’t clearly explain your expectations, though. As a consequence, you weren’t satisfied with the final result. Now they have to go back and start from scratch, and you have this task hanging over your head.

If you had better communication skills, this could have been prevented. And, it wouldn’t have wasted everyone’s time.

86. Break large projects into more manageable pieces.

Imagine you’re climbing a mountain. It’s daunting and overwhelming at first. But, if you break your climb down into stages, it will seem a little more manageable.

When you and your team embark on a massive project, scale it down into bite-sized chunks so that it seems more achievable.

87. Don’t overburden your team.

Is your team already working at full capacity? Then don’t throw any more work their way. Besides making them more anxious and stressed, it will also prevent you from delegating some of your less important tasks to them.

88. Provide time management training.

You just hired a new employee. They fit in with your culture and are the best at what they do. But, their time management skills are lacking. As a result, it holds up everyone when working on a project together.

Either mentor them or suggest that they take a time management course so that this is no longer a concern for you or anyone else.

89. Establish time-off schedules for you and your team.

Both you and your team need time away from work. It keeps everyone within your organization fresh and energetic. Most importantly, it reduces stress and burnout. To ensure that this takes place, establish time-off policies like no email after hours, and encouraging breaks.

90. Be the dumbest person in the room.

“One of the best productivity hacks I’ve learned is to hire people who are better at specific things than I am,” wrote Joshua Conran on Inc.com. “I actively work to ensure I’m the dumbest person in the room.”

“As I do this, I become less needed on a day-to-day basis to complete projects, and the company’s talent accomplishes more than I ever could.”

91. Get peer pressure.

Believe it or not, research has found that peer pressure helps kids more than it hurts them. And, this is also true in adulthood.

Surrounding yourself with positive, supportive, and like-minded people encourage you to pick-up healthy habits. Consider joining professional organizations or working in a coworking space the next time you need a productivity boost.

92. The 5-second rule.

I’m a germaphobe. So, this is not about eating food after it’s been on the ground for five seconds. It’s a hack developed by Mel Robbins that can nudge you to take action.

Mel defines this as, “If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea.”

93. Identify your procrastination triggers.

Despite your best intentions, procrastination happens to us all. Take note of what triggers your own procrastination. Maybe you start thinking that a task is tedious or difficult so that you can find a way to beat procrastination once and for all.

94. Close open loops.

Open loops are commitments you’ve made but haven’t been set in stone. Sure. If something more important pops up, these can be rescheduled. But, if we don’t close these, they linger in our minds. And they can even interfere with your productivity.

For instance, you ran into a colleague last week and agreed to lunch. You didn’t set an exact time, though. So, there you are working when you receive a text from this person saying that they’ll meet you at 12:30 p.m. If you had known this in advance, you would have had more flexibility in your schedule. Now your entire day is off-course.

If you didn’t agree on a specific time initially, then take the initiative and set up a time so that you can close this loop.

95. Maximize your time.

“I’m always trying to maximize my time,” says “Shark Tank” investor and FUBU founder Daymond John.

“For example, I’ll do my emails when I’m on a plane, instead of when I’m in the office. I try to have my team members handle as much of the meetings as possible. I’ll be involved in the last part, so I don’t have to sit through five separate meetings of the same purpose. When I have personal interaction, I try to maximize that as well.”

96. Kill two birds with one stone.

You’ve got a packed schedule. But, you need to discuss a project with an employee. At the same time, you’ve been copped up all day inside and would love to stretch your legs. Why not invite that employee to join you on your walk?

97. Create your ideal workplace.

Your work environment has a significant influence on productivity. With that in mind, create an optimized workplace that will encourage you to be more productive. Examples would be removing clutter from your desk, reducing background noise, and having ergonomic furniture. Also, make sure that you have appropriate lighting, set the temperature just right, and place plants around the office.

98. Almost was good enough.

Perfectionism can be crippling. Sometimes you need to accept that “good enough” will suffice.

Of course, this is easier said than done. But, here’s a strategy that may help. If you’re writing a book, then yeah. You want that to be as close to perfection as possible. But, that social media update or blog post. There’s no need to obsess over them being perfect.

99. Don’t break the chain.

Do you know how Jerry Seinfeld got so funny? He placed a large calendar on his wall and drew a red X on the days are wrote jokes. The idea was not to break the chain by building consistency and momentum.

100. Reflect at the end of the day.

Before drifting off to sleep, take a minute, and reflect on what you accomplished today. It’s a simple trick that will get you motivated. And, it also lets you identify what worked and what needs to be adjusted.

101. Plan your week on Sunday night.

Sundays are supposed to be a day of rest. But, you know, there is no rest for the weary.

Now, you don’t have to put in a full workday on your day off. But, you should sit down every Sunday night and map out your entire. It will guarantee that it will be the most effective and efficient week ever since you know exactly what needs to get done and by when.

Need some tips to get started? Here are eight ways to plan your week so that it will be productive.

101 Time Management Tips to Make You the Most Productive Boss Ever was originally published on Calendar by .

The post 101 Time Management Tips to Make You the Most Productive Boss Ever appeared first on KillerStartups.

6 Signs Your Startup Needs a Knowledge Management System 25 Aug 2020, 8:00 am

COVID-19 has totally disrupted the way that most startups and small companies do business. Within the space of a few months, small business owners have had to scramble to maintain solvency. Leaders have had to navigate online sales, manage remote teams, and create consistent messaging to customers. 

Many companies are still playing catch-up and strategizing for this post-pandemic world. With all the unpredictability of our current climate, it’s more important than ever to stay organized. While it won’t solve every problem, now may be the perfect time to invest in a knowledge management system. 

Here are six signs that it’s time to create a knowledge management plan for your business:

1. If company knowledge is siloed:

Business owners and CEOs have long attempted different methods for creating knowledge databases. Departments have a tendency to silo their information inadvertently and create barriers to company-wide productivity. Company wikis, while incredibly useful when done well, tend to lack employee buy-in. After all, it takes a lot of time to think about everything you know and put it down into words. 

A knowledge base conveys the same information as a corporate wiki but takes far less effort. Knowledge management systems work across platforms and as browser add-ons. They utilize AI to gather the information as it’s being generated. This technology reduces work for your employees while also increasing company-wide utilization. Creating democratic access to knowledge is the best way to tear down silos and gain actionable insights.

2. If you want to boost productivity:

Hewlett-Packard’s former CEO, Lew Platt, said, “If only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more productive.” Each one of your employees is teeming with facts, experience, tips and tricks, and technical skills. The difficult thing is figuring out how to tap into that knowledge and unify it to create a whole picture. A 2017 TSIA survey reported that 70% of organizations believed that a knowledge management system would boost company productivity. When various minds and perspectives can access shared knowledge, seemingly random data can take shape into a clear picture. 

Again, a knowledge platform does a lot of this work for you. Data from every platform and department stream into one authoritative source. Imagine if everyone had on-demand access to every relevant piece of information from across the business. Each department gains insight into customer FAQs, the sales cycle, IT memos, etc. Implement these procedures now, while your business is still young and small. You will create a knowledge-formed culture that will reap the benefits for years to come.

3. If your teams struggle with communication:

Do you have certain employees or departments that consistently feel out of the loop? Is your IT team impossible to reach? Are your employees getting told two different things depending on who they ask? With a knowledge management system, every employee has access to the same hub of information. 

If someone misses a meeting or didn’t hear about a new policy, she now has a place to catch up. A knowledge management system creates an official residing place for all business information. If details are frequently slipping through the cracks, a knowledge management solution will be a great fit for your startup.

4. If your employees work remotely:

Good knowledge management has always been important, but now it is vital. Since COVID, 64% of workers report having worked remotely. 49% of remote workers have expressed a desire to continue working from home even after the pandemic. Knowledge management is the virtual means of walking over to a co-worker’s cubicle and asking a question. A robust knowledge management system can use AI to sync information from emails, Slack messages, and memos. Ideally, all company knowledge can be accessed from any employee’s living room sofa.  

Once knowledge is synced to a central location, people won’t have to spend all their time asking or answering questions. Instead, they can do the work they were hired to do. As your employees work and communicate online, knowledge management AI will help them upload and download new insights as needed. Knowledge management is the perfect solution for remote workers to communicate effectively and work productively.

5. If you need to simplify your training process:

A knowledge platform also makes an excellent onboarding tool. New employees can gain deep insight into how each department functions simply by reviewing knowledge bases. Operating procedures, company policies, marketing material, and more are all available within the same system. 

This also serves a second purpose of employees always having onboarding documents at their fingertips. Almost every company question can be answered with a simple keyword search. Especially if half your workforce is working remotely, a knowledge base will prove invaluable to new hires who are naturally going to have a lot of questions. 

6. If your business uses several different platforms:

We have all experienced the frustration of toggling between several programs, trying to glean insights from the spread-out data. 82% of leaders report using five or more apps or knowledge sources on an average workday. 

If your startup stores data in several different programs, a hub that syncs all your information will help bring order. Find your company a knowledge management system that integrates across platforms. The ability to access all of your information in one central location will save you headaches and time. 

If nothing else, 2020 has taught us to prepare for the worst. While company-wide organization has always been important, creating a central knowledge bank is now more crucial than ever. None of us know yet what the business landscape will look like in the coming months or years. The best thing you can do for your business is to have all your ducks in a row. Begin with streamlining company knowledge, and let that knowledge show you what to tackle next. A knowledge management system won’t fix every company problem, but it’s an excellent place to start.

The post 6 Signs Your Startup Needs a Knowledge Management System appeared first on KillerStartups.

Find Great Deals on Tech Gear with CompUSA 21 Aug 2020, 9:49 am

Would you rather spend more money on really cool tech gadgets, or less money? This isn’t a trick question…the obvious answer is less money. While items like computers, TVs and video games can be pretty expensive at the store, you can find them with awesome discounted prices on CompUSA.com.

CompUSA provides daily deals on computers, phones, tablets and more. When you find an item you want, CompUSA will show you which third-party stores have the item available, what the item is currently list for at each store, and a ton of other helpful information. When you’re ready to make a purchase, CompUSA will direct you to the store’s website so you can place your order.

When you get to CompUSA’s homepage, you can immediately see a live list of the top five deals, as well as some of the top deals in certain categories, such as the top laptop deal or top phone deal. You can scroll to see a list of the day’s top deals, browse different categories and stores, or use the search bar to find deals, coupons and more stores. CompUSA makes it super easy to find great deals on some pretty cool products.

When you find an item that piques your interest, you can view the deal to learn more about it. There, you’ll see a ton of helpful information, including the manufacturer’s description, product specs, price history, updates, the current prices at different stores, and more. You can also set an alert to be notified when the item reaches a certain price, or leave a comment and take part in discussions. Having so much information available can help you feel confident you’re getting a quality item for the best price.

Each item listed on CompUSA also has a Deal Score, which the company calculates by comparing the sale price to their editors’ projected price. The projected price is determined based on market conditions and competitive pricing. A Deal Score higher than 80% is considered to be very good (and lucky for you, there are a lot of these!).

Features

  • Free account: By signing up for a free account, you get instant access to alerts, discussions, daily deals via email, and more.
  • Categories: Find deals in CompUSA’s list of categories, including laptops, desktops, TV and video, cell phones, monitors, video games, Intel CPUs, AMD graphics cards, computer components, and XBOX One consoles.
  • Stores: Products are available from a wide range of stores, including Acer, Adorama, Amazon, Apple Store, B&H Photo Video, BJ’s Wholesale, Best Buy, BuyDig, CD Keys, CDW and more.
  • Price and stock alerts: Create an alert so you’ll be notified when an item reaches a certain price.
  • Comments and discussions: Leave a comment on an item and see what other people have to say about it, too.
  • Daily Deal updates via email: When you sign up for a free account, you’re added to CompUSA’s email list so you can have deals sent directly to your inbox.
  • Likes and WishList: You can like an item or add it to your WishList. When looking at your account, you can view your liked items or the products in your WishList.

Interested?
Instead of overpaying for your tech gear, check out CompUSA for some great deals. Visit CompUSA.com to learn more and create your free account.

Photos
CompUSA

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Fight Back Against “Urgency Bias” 20 Aug 2020, 8:00 am

In small doses, there’s nothing wrong with creating a sense of urgency. After all, a healthy sense of urgency can help overcome laziness and procrastination. You have to fight against making a vague promise to yourself that you’ll do X, Y, or Z when you have time. Especially right now — within the COVID lag times.

More importantly — staying urgent can keep you motivated and focused. If you know you have to complete a task by a certain date or time, then you aren’t going to let distractions interrupt your flow.

However, according to “The Workplace Therapist” Brandon Smith, we’re in the midst of an urgent pandemic. “Like a chef, how can you effectively put hot sauce on the right things (and not on everything leaving your kitchen)?” he asks.

“As someone who has studied workplace functionality in a myriad of industries and coached hundreds of mid and executive corporate leaders for nearly two decades, I’ve had a front-row spectator’s seat to the evolution of the urgency epidemic,” says Smith. “If you are the recipient of others’ urgency, how can you properly respond so as to not allow others to infect you?”

Smith’s solution, which he describes in his book The Hot Sauce Principle: How To Live And Lead In A World Where Everything Is Urgent All Of The Timeisn’t about time management. It’s about urgency management.

I couldn’t agree more. It’s impossible to be productive and manage your time when you aren’t behind the wheel. By that, I mean playing firefighter or not saying “no” to the right things. Certainly, that’s no easy feat. But, you can use the following techniques to fight back against an “urgency biasE.”

Get inside a priority box.

Not literally. Instead, I’m talking about one of my all-time favorite productivity strategies known as the Eisenhower matrix. Named after President Dwight D. Eisenhower, here you would place all of your to-do-lists items into one the following quadrants:

  • Urgent and important. Tasks that you will do immediately.
  • Important, but not urgent. Tasks that you’ll schedule for later.
  • Urgent, but not important. Anything that can be delegated to someone else.
  • Neither urgent nor important. These should be eliminated from your list and schedule.

What if you have multiple items in your urgent and important quadrant? Assign a letter or number for each. For example, if you have a task that’s due to do today, then that would be assigned either an A or 1.

Here’s the problem though, a priority matrix is no-match for urgency bias. What happens if something gets sprung on you at the last minute? Furthermore, research shows that we “choose to perform urgent tasks with short completion windows.” The reason? We get a quick dopamine hit.

To solve this problem, use the 2-minute rule. It’s similar to the Eisenhower matrix expect that it creates more of a triage system. Here’s how it works:

  • If something will only take you under 2-minutes to complete, just do it.
  • For tasks that someone else could do, hand-it-off to them.
  • If a task is important but time-consuming, schedule it for when you have availability.
  • For anything that’s not important, delete it.

Embrace microproductivity.

You may have never heard of microproductivity. But, don’t get too hung up on that. It’s just another way of saying to take baby steps.

“Breaking tasks down helps us to see large tasks as more approachable and doable, and reduces our propensity to procrastinate or defer tasks because we simply don’t know where to begin,” Melissa Gratias, Ph.D., a workplace productivity coach and speaker, told Trello.

Also, by breaking large projects into smaller tasks with deadlines, you can stay motivated. Remember, we instinctively choose smaller, urgent tasks even when we know that larger, less urgent activities are more consequential.

Furthermore, this stops us from relying too much on our memory. “If we rely on our memory, we’ll stop at every step of the task and think, ‘What am I supposed to do next?’” explains Dr. Gratias, “Those stops are opportunities to get distracted, get off track, or miss a step.” Having smaller to-dos makes it easier for us to determine what needs to be done next.

Microproductivity also lets us establish more specific goals. As such, we’re able to exclude what’s irrelevant, while inciting effort and persistency. And, this also gives us the opportunity to solicit feedback.

Slow down.

You’ve gone ahead and planned out your ideal week. Despite this, you constantly fall into the urgency trap. In turn, you rush in an attempt to get everything done.

Obviously, rushing to get everything done makes you more anxious and stressed while also interfering with your productivity. Mainly this is because you’re more prone to making mistakes or doing multiple things at once. So, you might be curious as to why you keep doing this yourself. Well, our brains get hooked on the adrenaline stimulation.

The solution? Mindfulness.

Instead of jumping from one frying pan to the next, stop, take a deep breath, and consider the following:

  • What’s the ideal outcome for today and the future?
  • What’s your definition of success?
  • Identify your lack of congruence.
  • Identify the strengths and skills needed to succeed.
  • Expand your existing strengths so that you can nurture them.

“When you consistently rush from point A to point B you miss the subtle nuances of the present moment that bring us joy, build connections, cultivate strengths, provide opportunities, and keep you focused to achieve the vision of our ideal life,” explains Dawa Tarchin Phillips for Mindful. “Instead of getting caught rushing to nowhere devote some mindful time to slowing down and outgrowing personal habits and limitations to achieve better results.”

Collaborate with long-term planners.

Whether if it’s a coach, mentor, or co-worker Liz Kislik suggests on HBR that you work with someone who is more cerebral. You know who these individuals are. They have that uncanny ability to combine high energy and careful planning to keep them laser-focused only on the big picture.

Working from a dedicated long-term business plan will help you avoid burnout.

Stop being so selfish.

That may have come off a bit harsh. But, take a moment to consider how your actions impact others. For example, you and your team have carefully crafted a well-thought content calendar. However, you constantly change due dates and titles in order to be more timely. That means your team know has to reshuffle not only the calendar but also their work to accommodate your last-minute demands.

It’s also okay to be a little selfish.

On the flip side, it’s also acceptable to be selfish at certain times. Let’s say that you have a project due at the end of the week. Since you knew this, you planned accordingly. Your schedule for the week only contains activities that will help you meet this deadline.

So, if you have a time request for a last-minute meeting or new assignment, you can politely decline. If it is an urgent matter, see if there is someone you trust who can take care of it. Or, attend to this during a break. If it’s going to take more time then anticipated, you may then have to adjust your calendar. It’s essential to learn to say “no” pleasantly.

Block out your time.

The idea behind time-blocking is straight-forward. You place an activity into your calendar for a specific period of time. An example would be a virtual meeting with your team from 1 pm to 2 pm on Tuesday. Another would be working on your most important task from 8 am to 10 am daily. And, it could also be scheduling breaks throughout the day.

Usually, time-blocking is an effective way to stay focused and maintain your productivity. block Mainly because it helps you block out distractions and discourage multitasking. But, when your blocks are too rigid, that doesn’t leave much wiggle room for anything that may pop-up.

The good news is that you can still use this method to avoid falling into the urgency trap. For instance, what if you’re most productive from 9 am to noon? Well, you would block out that timeframe to focus on your most important or difficult task for the day. You may have heard of this referred to as eating the frog.

Moreover, you can use time-blocking to protect your non-negotiables. Let’s say that you or your family member need to undergo surgery. Obviously you would put this in your calendar so that something of less importance would occupy that space.

But, on a day-to-day basis, you could leave your schedule wide-open during energy lulls, such as after lunch. You could also leave blank spaces available during the day. Maybe leave an hour blank in the morning and another in the afternoon. It’s a safe way to stick to your lists, while also having the flexibility to attend to emergencies.

Fight Back Against “Urgency Bias” was originally published on Calendar by .

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Why Back-to-School Disrupts Productivity 18 Aug 2020, 8:00 am

Like so many other children, my siblings and I went to an afterschool program when we were younger. It makes sense. However, with the pandemic, these things aren’t as common. Parents are juggling working from home while also homeschooling their kids. While schools still have the in-person option, there are many things for parents to consider. Parents couldn’t always leave work in the middle of the afternoon to scoop up their kids when the school day ends. But, this program was also open during the summer, which meant that mom was dropping us off before work and picking us up when she was off work.

As a kid, we thought we were being punished. In reality, we weren’t old enough to be left home alone, and our parents still had to go to work. Also, it didn’t disrupt their routine. When we got older and were allowed to stay home, and I remember how hard it was to get back into a routine. As a partner myself today, I can’t imagine what it was like for my parents.

Despite the misconception, back-to-school is not the most wonderful time of the year for parents, especially here in 2020. It’s actually one of the most stressful times for parents. “Back-to-school season brings an array of challenges,” Alyssa Johnson, vice president of account management for Care@Work, told SHRM. “New caregivers, new schedules, and new after-school programs all require a period of adjustment that working parents are balancing with their responsibilities in the office.”

Care@Work conducted a survey back in 2015 that found that 51 percent of working parents reported that back-to-school interferes with their work. Besides adjusting to new schedules, back-to-school can also disrupt your productivity in the following ways.

Prepping your kids for the new school year.

In a perfect world, you and your kids could wake-up on the first day of school and are ready to roll. The truth is that with the pandemic looming over the school year, there’s actually quite a bit of prep work to go into the start of the new academic calendar year.

For starters, there’s some shopping involved. Kids will need new school supplies, clothes, and food items for either a packed lunch or after-school snack. Sure, you can do most of this online. But, what if your child had a growth sprout over the summer and you don’t know what size shoes they wear? It’s easier to go to a store in-person to make sure you get the right size on the first try. Hopefully, there are some stores in your area that are taking health safety measures to insure you can still shop safely.

As for school supplies, a lot of teachers will give you a list before school starts. But, sometimes they will issue this list on the first day of the school year. That means when your kids get home, you have to be home that day early. You must stop what you’re doing — and go grab these things — or your kid is in trouble at school.

Additionally, if your child is changing schools because they’re moving from elementary school to junior high, there may be tours or orientation so that the student is familiar with the new building. This is usually the case, but not all schools are doing tours this year. Even if you aren’t required to attend this, you still have to figure out how they’ll get there and back, should you decide to have them at the school this year.

Getting the family back into a routine.

During the summer, kids are staying up later and sleeping in. They also don’t have much structure throughout the day. In other words, they don’t have a daily routine.

The first couple of days at school is mayhem. Children don’t respond to their alarm clock or your panicked screams. As a result, they oversleep. Now there isn’t time for them to have a healthy breakfast, remind you to sign a form or get dressed in time to catch the bus. The next thing you know, you’re on carpool duty, driving behind a bus, and late for work.

But, it’s just not a morning routine that’s been thrown out of place. Their evening routine has also been impacted. Instead of going outside to play, they need to do homework and make sure that they are prepared for school the next day. And, they also need to hit the hay earlier. It’s only more complicated when there are also extracurricular activities involved.

Getting back into a routine is difficult for anyone — particularly if you’ve just had a couple of months of freedom. It may even take a couple of weeks from them to get back into a groove. All the while, your routine is equally disrupted. It’s impossible to start your day on the root foot when you’re dealing with bad moods and rushing your kid out the door.

New school activities and responsibilities.

A new school year also means additional activities and responsibilities that need to be added to your family’s calendar. Examples include some sports, tutoring, homework, and testing. Somehow you have to squeeze all of these items into your already hectic schedule.

And it can also be distracting and stressful. Trying to coordinate transportation can interfere with your day, for example. Instead of focusing on work, you’re texting your spouse or another parent to sort this out. What’s more, you also have to work out how you’ll be able to attend these daytime events.

Unexpected days off.

Kids get sick. A snowstorm shuts down the roads. These are challenges that are common during the school year, and they will most certainly impact your productivity. In most cases, you’ll have to call out of work and use up a sick or personal day. This school year, COVID might make things even more challenging, since that is still prominent. Whatever you had planned now gets pushed to tomorrow or the next day. Obviously, your calendar is going to be off.

Even if you’re able to work from home for the day, you still have your children to worry about. If they’re sick, you’ll have to play doctor during the day. If it’s a snow day, they may continuously interrupt you because they’re bored or want to go sledding.

Professional development days and breaks.

Schools are closed for major holidays, and your business probably is as well. Depending on COVID in your area, your school may decide to close for that as well. But, what about breaks, like the last week of December or professional development days (called “early-day” by the kids)? If you don’t have childcare lined up, you have to stay at home. Again, even if you are still getting work done, your output probably isn’t as high when the kiddos aren’t around.

Anxious children.

We’ve all been there. You drop your child at pre-school, and they start bawling. You feel terrible. No parent wants to see their young child in such a state. Even though you know they’ll adjust and so will you — the first couple of days or weeks can be trying. You may be fine time-wise, but it throws off your productivity just a bit.

As children get older, they may get anxious about attending a new school or state testing. I can personally attest to this. I hated the first week of school as a freshman. It was a new school with a bunch of kids from other districts, and I wanted to hang with friends — but felt like I should include everyone. Then there was the inevitable jockeying for positions on teams and social groups.

Marital stress.

According to an Indeed survey, 84 percent of moms and 85 percent of dads “are surprised by the new school year’s challenges. Over half said they were unprepared to manage conflicting demands.” As a consequence, this takes a toll on their marriage.

A majority of parents, 88 percent of moms, and 85 percent of dads reported that the back-to-school season is stressful on their marriages. To make matters worse, “72 percent of moms and 53 percent of dads say they receive no support at work during back-to-school time.”

It would be a miracle to stay concentrated on work when you’re dealing with problems at home. As opposed to being 100 percent focused on a work-related task, your mind is more concerned with the argument you had before you left for the day and how it’s going to be resolved.

As a business owner, even now, with school right around the corner — the employees are disrupted. Most parents are trying to figure out whether or not they should send their kids to school or manage homeschooling them. Others have to leave early for picking up kids because it’s their “turn,” or their partner is late, or had a meeting, or is out of town on business.

The productivity drain is a concrete issue. My team picks up the slack and handles everything well — but nonetheless — the problem is real.

Staying organized.

Work-life balance is already a challenge. Now factor in all of the back-to-school, and staying organized is most likely your primary source of stress at work — and at home — when the kids go back to school. Moreover, your productivity can take a hit when you have to address last-minute or unexpected emergencies, mainly because it forces you to shuffle your schedule.

How to survive back-to-school and maintain your sanity throughout the year.

Yes. The new school year is stressful and chaotic, and it disrupts your productivity. Thankfully, you can use the following pointers to get back on track and stay sane for the remainder of the academic year.

Set attendance goals with your child.

It’s like Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity hack. He used to put an X on a wall calendar whenever he wrote for the day. Eventually, this created a “chain.” The goal then was not to break the chain. Keep track of your child’s attendance and reward them for not missing school. Also, don’t let them stay home unless they are genuinely sick.

Establish a routine.

Wake-up and go to bed at the same time during the week. Also, make sure that the entire family has a structure before and after school, like doing homework immediately after dinner, turning off electronic devices before bed, and preparing for tomorrow. It’s a simple and effective way to give your family structure and set everyone up for success.

Have a shared calendar.

Get an online calendar like GoogleApple, or Cozi that can be shared with your family. Now you and your family can view each other’s schedules and stay on the same page. A shared calendar will also help prevent scheduling conflicts, and help assigns household chores.

Schedule appointments during off-hours.

While not always possible, try to make any medical or dental appointments during off-hours, like before work, after school. During a lunch break is still “iffy” but better to go at lunch so that appointments don’t interrupt your day too much. If your child has to pause school time for this appointment, have them finish their work afterward so that they’re not missing an entire day of school.

Schedule extended trips during school breaks.

If you have to take trips during the pandemic, schedule your extended trips during regular school breaks to help your child stay caught up in school. These routines and habits help to set the expectation for your child to be in school during the school year. Even in elementary school, missing a week of classes can set your child behind on learning — and the schools demand days made-up now. Those make-up days just spread the “back to school disrupt” into another time of year that can be worse for productivity.

Split responsibilities.

Have your kids help out with household chores and compromise with your partner. For example, if your child has to miss two days of school, you stay home one day and your spouse the other. If they take the kids to school, then you pick them up. More people split their household and child responsibilities nowadays, and it makes for less lost productivity.

Build your village.

Put a support system in place for yourself and your child. Start with your immediate family, neighbors, and other parents. You can help each other out when needed. For example, if you need to leave earlier than usual to prepare for a meeting, your neighbor could take your child to school. If you can’t make a daytime event maybe they could record it for you. Just remember to return the favor.

It’s okay to let some things slip.

You’ve already got a lot on your plate when the kids go back to school. That means that you can cut yourself some slack and let some things slide. For instance, you don’t have to fold your laundry as soon as the dryer has finished its cycle. Put some folding off until you have a little more free time like on the weekend. If you like things perfect with laundry — try giving that good habit a rest for the sake of your more essential productivity aspects in your life.

Have a flexible schedule.

As an entrepreneur, you can set your own schedule. Maybe you could work from home a couple of days a week, or you can build your schedule around your kids. Try starting work by seven then finish up when your child is done with school. Definitely leave some blank space in your calendar. I don’t schedule anything between one and two pm right now. I don’t goof-off — it’s time I use to reflect or take care of less critical tasks. But, if I had to leave because my child had a doctor’s appointment, it doesn’t completely throw my schedule off.

Plan way in advance.

As soon as you can, review your calendar for the rest of the year — and the upcoming year. It’s the best way to remain productive and reduce your stress since you can coordinate schedules or line-up childcare before there’s an issue.

Why Back-to-School Disrupts Productivity was originally published on Calendar by .

The post Why Back-to-School Disrupts Productivity appeared first on KillerStartups.

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