You ever heard this quote from Albert Einstein? “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Clear your desk be more productive seems to belie that quote, but it had us wondering, “Do you have a cluttered mnd?” Are you leaving thoughts on the “table” because they are running around, unfettered, through your brain?
How many thoughts, half-formulated ideas, plans and tasks do you have cluttering up your brain? With these thoughts fluttering around, how is that impacting your ability to formulate new plans and thoughts? Do new thoughts go unexplored because you’re spending too much time and brain power and mental energy on those that you haven’t taken the time to corral?
How can you clear the clutter — in your mind and on your desk — to be more productive?
Clear Your Desk Be More Productive
- Write your tasks and thoughts down. Whether you use paper or electronic means, when you remove the clutter you are clearing your mind and desk to allow new thoughts and ideas in.
- Don’t rely on your memory for your daily to-dos or your larger life goals.
- An organized workspace (and mind) helps you get items done. The time you save looking for something is time you can be productive.
- Take a physical break to clear the clutter. Taking a short walk or going up and down a few flights of stairs is like hitting the refresh button on your internal computer.
- Write your to do list for the following day before you leave the office at the end of a work day. When you do this you give yourself a jump start on the following day and you also help prevent the middle of the night freak outs about something you’d forgotten to do or write down.
Clear your mind of mental clutter and you can be more productive. Do you have a clear cut plan for clearing your mental and physical clutter? Has it helped you get more done?
Conscious business ownership is a buzzword in entrepreneurial circles. What does it mean? It means that the business takes up causes and that the way they operate the business, treat their employees and customers and the environment support their mission and vision. Is your business promoting your values? Maybe it isn’t even something you’ve ever thought about. Chances are you haven’t. I didn’t, until recently. Once I did take time to think about my mission and vision for my business, though, I did realize I run my business the way I run my life — I follow specific missions in my life and they carry over to my business dealings.
Is Your Business Promoting Your Values?
Whether you’re a solopreneur or if you’re looking for a business partner, you need to know your mission and visions and to make certain they mesh or you will be butting heads. You may or may not pronounce to your clients and your employees that you are running a conscious business, or you may just be living your mission and vision without the pronouncement.
I’ll bet you are living your mission and your vision and that it is carrying over into your business interactions, but if you’re not clear about the concept, here are values to consider:
- Be authentic. Be true to yourself every day in every business and personal relationships
- Be ethical. Just as you wouldn’t work with someone whose ethics you questioned, you don’t want your potential business partner to question your ethics.
- Be trustworthy. If you’re trustworthy, you will more quickly build trust with prospective clients. It’s been said that new clients want to work with a business owner they “know, like and trust” and you want to be the person they have those feelings for.
If you work with a team, do they understand your core values? If not, why not? Have you articulated the mission and values to them? More importantly, have you shared with them HOW they can carry those values into their interactions with clients on a daily basis.
Sales people know that in order to make more sales you need to listen more than you speak. Why? If you’re talking the entire time you’re meeting with a client you won’t truly be hearing what they want, how you can help them and what their pain points are. When you meet with a potential client do you feel that you’re doing all of the talking? Yes, you want to help drive and direct the conversation, but ask a question and let your client answer.
Listening is a skill that can be sharpened and could lead to increased success in work and your personal life.
Most individuals retain about 50% of what they hear. There are different levels of listening which are:
- Level 1 — this listener is preoccupied
- Level 2 – this listener is an active participant
- Level 3 – this listener pays special attention to the speaker’s words and body language
Become A Better Listener
- Maintain eye contact
- Don’t let yourself be distracted
- Acknowledge what the speaker is saying
- Repeat what you heard, “What I think I heard you say was…”
- Don’t interrupt, unless the speaker specifically said, “feel free to interrupt if you have a question.”
- Don’t ask only “yes” or “no” questions. Ask questions that give the other party a chance to elaborate
At what level do you listen? When you’re in a situation when you should be listening, what distracts you? Is it that you don’t find the topic engaging? Is the speaker monotone and therefore you’re not engaged because there is no inflection? Are you being “talked at” rather than “talked to”? That plays a role in how actively you listen and participate.
If you want to become a better listener as a way to enhance sales or engagement with your employees or staff, it is something about which you need to be aware in order to become a better listener.
Everyone procrastinates from time to time. Don’t beat yourself up when it happens, BUT if it happens regularly and if you’re not completing client tasks and if your to do list is getting infinitely longer and there is no “done” tasks, you need to find ways to break through procrastination.
There are many reasons we procrastinate and there are many reasons you need to break through and get back on track. Procrastination has an emotional side — you KNOW you need to complete a task but you’re just not doing it. That feeling of not being complete will lead to anxiety and even more avoidance. Thinking that, “I’ll do it tomorrow” is not helpful — especially if you have had more than one “tomorrow” that you’re putting it off.
Here are some of the reasons entrepreneurs procrastinate:
- Can’t make a decisoin
- Biting off more than you can chew
- Never saying “no”
- Lack of organization
- Lack of resources to complete the task
- Not knowing where to begin
- Taking on a task that doesn’t fit with your values or mission
- Knowing that the outcome will not be a good one. Ie, if you have to fire an underperforming employee or contractor
- You’re confused on where to begin and what the outcome will be
In order to break out of procrastination mode you need to look at the reasons you are procrastinating and that will help you break through. If you simply can’t make a decision, for example, I suggest writing a list of pros and cons. If you always say “yes” to everything that’s asked of you — you need to learn how to say no, but more importantly WHY to say no. If something doesn’t fit into your business vision, it’s not a fit. If you’re being asked to do something you just don’t have the time for, say no. If you want to say yes, but aren’t certain, then say, “I might be interested in that, let me get back to you.” Don’t let yourself get boxed in and feel you have to make an immediate decision.
Why do you procrastinate? Which of these items on the list above plague you? If you need help breaking through, have you ever considered working with a coach? If so, leave a comment below or send me an email.
The following is a story of unknown origin dating back to possibly a reference by Orson Welles in 1954. It was most probably based upon an ancient Sanskrit story of a scorpion and a turtle.
I share this story as we sometimes forget that promises can be broken, and we need to consider the consequences we face regarding our decisions.
The Scorpion and the Frog
One day, a scorpion looked around at the mountain where he lived and decided that he wanted a change. So he set out on a journey through the forests and hills. He climbed over rocks and under vines and kept going until he reached a river.
The river was wide and swift, and the scorpion stopped to reconsider the situation. He couldn’t see any way across. So he ran upriver and then checked downriver, all the while thinking that he might have to turn back.
Suddenly, he saw a frog sitting in the rushes by the bank of the stream on the other side of the river. He decided to ask the frog for help getting across the stream.
“Hellooo Mr. Frog!” called the scorpion across the water, “Would you be so kind as to give me a ride on your back across the river?”
“Well now, Mr. Scorpion! How do I know that if I try to help you, you wont try to kill me?” asked the frog hesitantly.
“Because,” the scorpion replied, “If I try to kill you, then I would die too, for you see I cannot swim!”
Now this seemed to make sense to the frog. But he asked. “What about when I get close to the bank? You could still try to kill me and get back to the shore!”
“This is true,” agreed the scorpion, “But then I wouldn’t be able to get to the other side of the river!”
“Alright then…how do I know you wont just wait till we get to the other side and THEN kill me?” said the frog.
“Ahh…,” crooned the scorpion, “Because you see, once you’ve taken me to the other side of this river, I will be so grateful for your help, that it would hardly be fair to reward you with death, now would it?!”
So the frog agreed to take the scorpion across the river. He swam over to the bank and settled himself near the mud to pick up his passenger. The scorpion crawled onto the frog’s back, his sharp claws prickling into the frog’s soft hide, and the frog slid into the river. The muddy water swirled around them, but the frog stayed near the surface so the scorpion would not drown. He kicked strongly through the first half of the stream, his flippers paddling wildly against the current.
Halfway across the river, the frog suddenly felt a sharp sting in his back and, out of the corner of his eye, saw the scorpion remove his stinger from the frog’s back. A deadening numbness began to creep into his limbs.
“You fool!” croaked the frog, “Now we shall both die! Why on earth did you do that?”
The scorpion shrugged, and did a little jig on the drownings frog’s back.
“I could not help myself. It is my nature.”
Then they both sank into the muddy waters of the swiftly flowing river.