Consistency nearly always beats brilliance. But being consistent is hard. If we could do that we’d all be regular gym goers, be up at 6am every day, and eat zero junk food – and very few people achieve all that.
So the trick is understanding which things are going to net you the most results. When working with our clients to grow their businesses, we’ve seen these three things as creating the most positive change. They’re fast and easy – you just need to do them every day.
1. Focus on what is important, not what is urgent
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” Dwight D. Eisenhower
Take a look at the way you spend your time at work and you’ll know this to be true. You’ll be swamped with tasks that are urgent, but not actually that important – phone calls from clients, people stopping at your desk, technology breaking down and meetings you don’t actually need to attend. You’ll be non-stop busy without actually achieving the things that move you towards your goals.
U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower even used and created a system for categorising tasks. To do this for yourself, ask two questions about each task:
Is this important?
Is this urgent?
You’ll then see that each task falls into one of four categories. This will give you clarity about where you should be devoting your time every day.
Urgent and important – do now
Last minute demands that are business critical
Projects with deadlines
Not urgent, but important – schedule for later
Personal care and relationship building
Urgent, but not important – delegate or avoid
Phone calls, emails and other interruptions
Other people’s minor demands
Not urgent and not important – weed out entirely
Web browsing and social media
Anything you use to procrastinate
Mindless TV watching
To do, starting tomorrow
Define the tasks you need to get done today, and categorise them into the quadrants so you can focus your day around what’s important, not what is urgent.
2. Reconcile accounts every day
If knowledge is power, then reconciling your accounts every day is the fastest, easiest way to claim some for yourself. Here’s why it’s important:
Better information, better decisions
When your accounts are reconciled, you can head into the work day with a real understanding of your key metrics, like your cash balance, accounts receivable, and accounts payable. That gives you clear information about when and if you can make fast business pivots. You can make big calls like hiring someone new, adding new equipment, or jumping on a plane for an overseas meeting, knowing you can cover the expense.
Reclaim your time
Reconciling your accounts should only take a couple of minutes. Your transactions will be fresh in your mind – you’ll know exactly how each line item should be reconciled. The alternative is to leave it a few weeks, or even months, and then sift through hundreds of line items, while struggling to remember what you’ve been spending your money on. Doing it every day means that instead of just looking at past financial performance every now and then, you’ll have your most recent numbers to help you better predict the future.
3. Schedule some time for yourself
Study after study has proven that true recreation really re-creates you – happy workers work harder and successful people tend to take holidays. With breaks away from your work, you’ll return refreshed, focussed and motivated. Some studies suggest that the perfect break length is 17 minutes – you don’t need to get that exactly right, but it’s indicative of how powerful even short moments away from your desk can be.
At the beginning of each day, plan for at least one moment away from your work. That should be at least half an hour for lunch away from your desk – even better if you can find time in the day for a walk, or a chat with friends. The important thing is to schedule this time in, and prioritise it even over seemingly more important or urgent tasks.
Here are some tips to taking truly restorative breaks:
Find some calm: A chaotic day can be incredibly draining. Take a break from it to refresh your nerves – try controlled breathing and meditation. If you’re new to this, an app like Headspace can help.
Move: Most of us sit to work, which doesn’t do anything for our circulation or concentration. Exercise is proven to increase concentration. Take a walk, run up and down the stairs, or log in to a 15-minute yoga video.
Get outside: Being in nature for even a short time improves performance and productivity – one study even suggests that just looking at pictures of nature does the same thing.
Leave your phone: Take a proper break – it doesn’t count if you’re outside and walking, but still answering emails on your phone.
Success is in the every day
We can’t all be those geniuses whose success can be put down to flashes of brilliant inspiration – but the good news is, we don’t need to be. Instead, try doing a few things every day that will move you forward in your goals. Small steps every day achieve huge things. You just have to start – and importantly, keep going.
If you’d like help defining what other small things you could be doing every day – and help with sticking to them – talk to us today.