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The Best 50 Productivity Hacks for Entrepreneurs

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Being productive as an entrepreneur isn’t easy. There are so many distractions out there that it can be hard to make progress towards your goals. But it’s not hopeless. There are tools and methods that you can use to get superhuman productivity.

Here are 50 of the best productivity hacks for entrepreneurs:
1. Avoid commuting to the office

Commuting is stressful, time intensive and causes friction in your day. Avoid if at all possible!

2. Learn how to say “No”

Avoid being a people pleaser, say no to opportunities and favours and you will find yourself with more time to reach your goals

3. Do the most important task of the day first

In the morning we have the highest willpower levels, use this to complete the hardest task first . This makes the rest of the day’s tasks seem easy

4. Keep your phone in airplane mode until your first task is done

This ensures the first task is done with the distraction of a pointless phone call.

5. Use sleep cycle to wake up with energy

SleepCycle is an app that monitors your sleep cycle so it can wake you up at the optimum time in a 30-minute window.

6. Exercise in the morning

Richard Branson claims exercising in the morning gives him 4 more productive hours in a day.

7. Be goal orientated rather than following a todo list

Always align your tasks to an outcome ie. if it doesn’t increase revenue don’t prioritise it.

8. Meditate using Headspace

Meditation clears your mind and lets you develop laser focus and Headspace guides you through the process.

9. Use the Pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro technique is 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break, quite simple it works.

10. Start the day of using the 60-60-30 technique

This ensures your first 2 biggest tasks of the day get done with ease. 50-minutes work, 10-minutes break, 60-minutes work and then 30-minutes break.

11. Avoid meetings

Meetings are usually a waste of time. Avoid meetings if you can and cap them at 20-minutes if they are unavoidable.

12. Remember the Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle states that 80% of your results in anything stem from 20% of your actions, identify the 20% of actions that create 80% of your revenue and double down on them

13. Avoid eating big meals during the day

Eating big meals sends blog from your brain to your digestive system, leaving you feeling lethargic and stupid.

14. If it takes less than 2 mins do it now

For example, if you open an email in your inbox reply… don’t leave an “open-loop” in your mind.

15. Check emails 2 times a day

Email and messaging apps like slack are massive time wasters. Create an autoresponder telling people you check emails only 2 times a day and if it’s super important they can speak with your PA.

“There is no substitute for hard work.” – Thomas Edison

16. Tell people to stop distracting you

It takes you 25-minutes to get back to your original level of focus after distraction, make co-workers realize that.

17. Use background music

Use FocusAtWill, Brain.fm or youtube alpha waves/classical music to focus whilst working. Music you like with lyrics is always distracting.

18. Plan your day the night before

Wire your brain for productivity by going over your day the night before.

19. Make 60-second decisions

Don’t sweat over decisions or spend too much time deliberating them because it tanks your mental energy. The 60-second decision is a powerful concept.

20. Don’t start the day with distraction

80% of smartphone users check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up. The first hour sets the precedent for the day so don’t start it with distraction.

21. Make your work environment comfortable

To get into “flow” state you need to be in a comfortable environment, make sure your office isn’t cluttered or messy and that your seat is comfortable.

22. Stick to your routine

Whenever you can do the same things at the same times of the day, this allows you to create a habit and means in the future the task will take no energy to do.

23. Wake up early to do your morning routine

If you can get in the habit of a morning routine you will set yourself up for success. It will allow you to guarantee a productive day.

24. Reward yourself

Pick times to cool off and reward yourself like lunches with a friend or a walk to a coffee shop at mid-morning when you’ve completed your second task.

25. Pick a calendar management tool

Fantastical 2, Omnifocus, Wunderlist, Trello, Asana are all great calendar management tools.

26. Schedule tasks

Tasks always expand to the time you have. Schedule them at a certain time and duration to ensure they get done.

27. What gets measured gets managed

Always review your work day and week. What got done? What didn’t get done and why? How can I streamline my productivity process?

28. Don’t multitask

Multitasking lowers your IQ as much as smoking weed. Avoid this!

29. Use the 6 list rule

Every working day write down 6 tasks in order of importance and tackle them one by one. If some don’t get completed reorder into the next day’s list.

30. Drink more water

When you wake up drink 0.5L of water immediately to replenish your body after a waterless night. Keep drinking water throughout the day to improve focus.

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”  – Stephen King

31. Use stayfocussd to block distracting websites

StayFocussd is a chrome extension that blocks distracting sites like facebook.

32. Have an afternoon nap

A 20-minute nap is an incredible asset to have. It refreshes the mind and body and allows you to develop superhuman productivity.

33. Don’t watch the news

The news affects your “reptilian brain” by evoking a fear response. You will be much happier and more productive without it.

34. Turn off push notifications

Push notifications equals distractions. Turn them off and celebrate your new found freedom.

35. Use on and off ramps

This means do the same task to get you prepared for work every single day and a different task to prepare you for stopping thinking about work. For example, a run in the morning and a shower in the evening to stop you bringing work home with you.

36. Brain dump once a week

Once a week write down everything you have been worrying/thinking about ( not necessarily just work related) and put in on a piece of paper with 2 categories. Things I can control and things I can’t. Schedule the former into tasks for the week and tear up the page with the things you can’t control on it. This releases mental tension.

37. Use Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Less noises equals less distractions which equals better productivity

38. Visualise yourself

Pro golfers have increased their handicap without hitting a ball using visualisation. Conor McGregor swears by it. Visualise yourself being successful with the work at hand.

39. Make sure you have everything to complete your tasks

You should have everything at hand to complete your tasks. This means planning ahead of time for resources, assets or people that are needed to complete the task.

40. Schedule eating

Always eat breakfast and schedule eating times to avoid getting hungry and eating junk.

41. Split test your sleeping habits

Always get at least 6 hours of sleep a night. Pulling an all nighter doesn’t make you a “hustler” it means you’re not organised enough.

42. Read David Allens “getting things done”

This is the must read book for successful productivity.

43. Sleep in 90-min blocks

The human circadian rhythm is 90 minutes and it takes us on average 10 minutes to get to sleep. So go to sleep at 10:50PM if you want to wake up with energy at 6AM.

44. Take at least 1 day off in your business a week

Your business is your baby and needs a lot of attention to grow up strong and healthy, but one night a week consider getting a babysitter and not thinking about it. This will allow you to relax your mind and avoid burn out.

45. Reconnect with your why

Never forget why you started. Always connect the work with your passion and dreams.

“Action is the foundational key to all success.” – Pablo Picasso

46. Give up TV

10 years from now you will regret watching TV. It is a massive time waster.

47. Reduce decision fatigue

Mark Zuckerberg always wears the same clothes and eats the same food. This allows him to use his decision powers on things that matter.

48. Cold showers

Cold showers force the blood in your body into your core. This gives you energy and mental focus.

49. Splash cold water on your face when you wake up

This increases cortisol levels (stress hormone) to help you act with urgency to get things done.

50. Avoid the snooze button

The first action you do sets the context for the day. The snooze button is so dangerous because it trains your brain to procrastinate and actually makes you wake up feeling more tired.

Which productivity hack will you be implementing today? Leave a comment below!

Max Feller helps entrepreneurs be more successful. Want to double your productivity without feeling overwhelmed and overworked? Click Here (It's free).

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Lorraine Haataia

    Dec 20, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    What a terrific list! Thank you for so many #productivity reminders in one place!

  2. Ola Rybacka

    Oct 12, 2017 at 5:09 am

    Hi, Max!
    I’m happy to inform you that this post is featured in the recent part of TimeCamp’s weekly Productivity Articles roundup! Find “Getting Things Done Smarter: 10 Best Productivity Articles! 8/10/27” on https://www.timecamp.com/blog/.
    Thank you for sharing these excellent productivity and time management tips!
    Ola Rybacka, SM Manager at TimeCamp

  3. Elliot

    Dec 7, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    My favorite piece of advice is the brain dump twice a week.

  4. Dylan

    Dec 5, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    This is a very informative list, thanks for sharing it.

  5. Keri Vandongen

    Nov 30, 2016 at 12:19 am

    Your comprehensive list should be useful for every entrepreneur, Max!
    My favourite 3 are learning to say NO more often, being task-oriented versus following a to-do list, and reducing decision fatigue.
    Another hack I’d add would be leaving unscheduled time each day. This advice came from Chris Brogan – the fastest way to burnout is to operate at maximum capacity for too long.
    ~Keri

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7 Awesome Tips for Entrepreneurs to Create an Inspiring Vision Board

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Vision boards are one of the most powerful success tools that can do wonders to inspire and motivate you, and put you in the right frame of mind. Whether you use them for your business or personal life, creating and using a vision board also adds a bit of fun to your routine, while activating the Law of Attraction and drawing your wants and desires into your life!

If you’re ready to get started, here are 7 tips that you’ll find helpful in creating an inspiring vision board.

1. Be Clear About Its Use

Your vision board is going to be a visualization tool, carrying images and words that will drive you to achieve your goals and fulfill your dreams. As such, don’t move forward with your vision board thinking of it as a wish list or a to-do list.

Note that there are different types of vision boards. If you’re very clear about what you want or you want something specific to happen in your business, you can create an ‘I know exactly what I want’ board. An ‘Allowing’ vision board is for visions and goals that you’re not quite sure about, or if you know that circumstantial changes are to be expected. If you’re working on a particular aspect of your life or are focusing on a specific business goal, a ‘Theme’ vision board will be right for you.

2. Get the Pre-Work Going

Yes, there’s pre-work to be done before you begin creating your vision board! Start with assessing what you’ve desired for your business and personal life over the past 6-12 months. Think of areas like branding, sales, or public speaking, and list goals and intentions in each category that you want to bring change or grow in over time.

Remember to set aside ample amount of time for this activity. You can’t list desires or goals while you’re rushing your lunch or in-between meetings! Sit where you can get some peace and quiet, meditate for a while, and ask yourself what it is that you truly want.

Let visuals and emotions flow freely through your mind, and let this process make for a deeper, meaningful experience. You might want to play some soft, soothing music as you dwell on what’s important to you!

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

3. Narrow Down

Business goals, and quite a few personal goals, can be long-term, requiring you to put in time and effort. By having too many such goals on your mind, you might get overwhelmed easily. Instead, think in terms of baby steps and break down your goals into simpler, manageable steps.

An easy way to do this is to create action plans outlining individual tasks. Make sure you have clearly defined actions so it’s easier to make progress. You can also consider creating time-based milestones.

As an example, if your goals include making more money or expanding your business, don’t just add ‘Make More Money’ or ‘Expand Business’ to your list. Perhaps you need to focus on sales or new product releases to increase revenue that you can further use to support business expansion!

4. Gather Representational Images

Flip through your favorite magazines and see if the images catch your eye. You can also browse images online and download and print the ones you like. A word of advice: Don’t let your perfectionism get in the way and compel you to continue your quest for ideal images! This way, you’ll never find what you’re looking for and you could end up not completing the exercise.

Most importantly, don’t think when choosing images, but feel. This will keep you from perceiving images in a conventional way! In addition to this, don’t stop yourself from picking images that aren’t connected to each other rationally; it’s fine to put up whatever resonates with you on your vision board. Do pick a handful of motivational affirmation words too.

5. Arrange Right

Have a theme and format in mind for your vision board. You can look for inspiration online, but follow your heart if you want to do something original! You might want to accessorize your board with colorful paper, stickers, and more. Keep in mind that all colors impact us differently, so if you’re looking to create a board that gives off calm, pleasing vibes, a red-themed board won’t serve the purpose.

Another thing to be mindful of is that having too many pictures on a single vision board can prevent you from focusing on your goals. To avoid clutter, only choose pictures that inspire you the most. Alternatively, consider creating two vision boards.

6. Put It to Use

No matter how inspiring your vision board is, it will fail to inspire you if you put it up in an obscure place like behind a door or in the cupboard. So put your board up where you can see it every day. This doesn’t mean it’s okay to put it up near a toilet though! Think of a place where you can stand or sit for a while each day and get positive vibes as you view your vision board.

The way you view your vision board also matters! Simply glancing at it won’t produce the results you want, so commit to studying the contents of your vision board for at least 5 minutes, once a day. Read quotes and affirmations that you’ve put up aloud and with conviction. Be careful of resorting to daydreaming; you want to visualize how you’ll work to attain your goals, not just envision your life after you achieve all that you want.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

7. Redo the Board as Needed

You don’t have to stick with the same vision board arrangement for the whole year! There are bound to be changes in your life, so feel free to re-arrange images and affirmation words to reflect the same. Do leave some blank space so you can add new goals as they come along.

Bear in mind that you shouldn’t feel pressurized to have a new arrangement for every month of the year. A vision board only needs to be redone in the event of major changes that affect your outlook and focus.

Don’t let doubts creep in. Every time you look at your vision board, take a deep breath, smile, and tell yourself that you’re closer to achieving your dreams.So get started on creating your inspiring vision board, and let it fire you up to turn your dreams into reality!

How has your vision board helped you? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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10 “Brick-In-The-Head” Moments You’ll Encounter as an Entrepreneur

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The entrepreneurial life is one of the most challenging, stressful and risky avenues to success you could possibly choose. The issue with doing it alone in business ventures is exactly that; you’re alone. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be driven, thick-skinned, and ready for any curve balls.

Here is a list of 10 ‘brick-in-the-head’ moments you’ll need to overcome on your path to becoming a market leader:

1. Letting criticism get to you

The ways society deals with ambition and success is very odd, and you may feel like you’re unfairly criticised by your peers regularly. The reality is that you’ll encounter plenty of jealousy and bitterness during the course of your career.

This isn’t to say that all criticism is malicious – constructive critique can go a long way. But remember that nobody understands your vision better than you. Remember that the art of good entrepreneurship is to delve where nobody else is willing to go.

When Bill Gates decided to offer his Internet Explorer browser as a free package with his Operating Systems in 1995, it was considered a counter-intuitive move by some, but ended up being the cornerstone for Microsoft’s resounding dominance.

2. The temptation of ignoring constructive criticism

While it’s worth adopting a thick skin to allow unjust criticism to bounce off of you, it’s also important to know when to take it on board and consider constructive comments. As you’re taking the leap into controlling your own business, sometimes it can become too easy to concentrate on the nuances of your work and miss the bigger picture. Take the time to consider advice that you are offered – if it fits in with your vision, then it may be worth taking.

3. Keeping on top of your cash flow

Making sure you’re focused on your finances is one of the biggest parts of being an entrepreneur – after all, it’s all about making money.

If you’re worried about your cash flow, then it’s probably a good sign. All entrepreneurs struggle with money at times in their careers – and so if you don’t keep an eye on your figures then you risk showing signs of complacency. If your figures are really getting to you, then it might be a good idea to skim through your finances and start saving cents here and there.

4. Facing the unknown

One of the most anxiety-inducing moments is being kept up all night wondering which way your venture’s going to go. Entrepreneurship is a volatile career, and coming to terms with the unknown is a big part of the life that comes with it.

Prevention is better than a cure when it comes to dealing with the uncertainty of building businesses. Try to manage your resources well – it could save a lot of worrying a little bit further down the line.

“Many times, the thought of fear itself is greater than what it is we fear.” – Idowu Koyenikan

5. Abandoning your previous career or education

Often the first step on your path to success can be the most difficult and stressful. You could be leaving a comfortable job, or abandoning your studies to go and pursue an idea that, no matter how good, is not guaranteed success.

Here it’s once again advisable to make sure only you have the final word on the route you take in life. Be sure to listen to the advice that those close to you have to offer but just remember that the choice is yours.

6. Time management

Difficulties with time management can be a big cause of stress when setting up your own business.

The most stressful aspect of this could be that you neglect other parts of your life in order to oversee the successful running of the company.

Juggling your time is perhaps the primary problem that is faced by entrepreneurs. You have to make sure you focus on your output, marketing and networking all at the same time, which can get overwhelming.

Here, the best remedy is to keep records of your tasks and goals using available tools. One should set rotas of where to invest their time and attention over the course of a coming week. It might not seem like much, but it could lift a heavy burden off of your head.

7. Making the right decisions

As an entrepreneur, the significance of the decisions you make could mean life or death for your business. This burden can weigh you down heavily. Remember the very best in the industry make the wrong decisions, and many of the greatest entrepreneurs today have gotten into the position they’re in through trial and error.

The markets are often volatile, and extraneous circumstances which could never be accounted for can come into play. One must find a way of coping with the process of making company defining decisions, and once you’ve become confident enough to take big decisions in your stride, you’ll be well on the way to industry success.

8. Staying true to your vision

Things have a habit of changing very quickly in business. You’ll need to adapt to the ever-shifting sands and stay true to your vision. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Construct a mission statement for your business that you can refer back to in order to hold on to the reason you decided to pursue your idea in the first place. Sometimes seeing what you’re working towards written down can be enough to keep you focused on your goals.

“You have to understand your own personal DNA. Don’t do things because I do them or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban tried it. You need to know your personal brand and stay true to it.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

9. Team building

Here it’s important to recruit not only the most skilled candidate but the candidate that’ll best fit into your vision for the office culture. Sometimes finding a confident and engaging candidate is a critical factor in recruiting for a job that requires plenty of teamwork and client interaction. The best course of action for lowering the stress of team building is to look for candidates that express themselves in a way that fits the business work ethic best.

10. Dealing with failure

Virtually every entrepreneur has to face the prospect of failure at multiple points in their career. The best way to avoid becoming bogged down by an unsuccessful business is to see it as an exercise in trial and error. Learn from your mistakes, and if your startup has failed, what caused it to fail?

Welcome failure as a valuable learning tool, and jump back into the industry you desire to improve. Improve your original idea or find another one because the life of a successful entrepreneur is built on plenty of experiences and lessons – many of which were learnt the hard way.

What other encounters have you had as an entrepreneur? Comment Below!

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5 Things You Must Have in Order to Succeed as a Freelancer

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Up until about 3 years ago, I honestly had no idea what a freelancer even was. It sounded like a cool job title and I secretly envied people who could call themselves one. Didn’t they get to travel the world with a laptop and go sailing and sip margaritas beside some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet? Yup, I wanted to be a freelancer.

I wanted in on this action. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I was sure I could pull this off, couldn’t I?

The Mystery Slowly Unravelled

And so began the digging and sniffing around. The more research I did, the more I realized this wasn’t for the faint of heart. I took in as many blogs and pdf’s as I could. I watched YouTube tutorials until my eyes bled. I took in everything I could about it.

I decided that I could easily become a freelance writer. I got good writing skills (did you catch that?) thanks to so many letters written to ex boyfriends behaving badly, and my journal. Yup, I could definitely be a writer.

So now what? Now the real work begins. So you want to be a writer, huh? Get ready girl. You have tons of work ahead of you. Little did I know.

Can’t I just tell stories?

I just wanted to write about all my crazy life stories ‘cause Lord knows I have a million. Surely someone will want to read them, no? Isn’t writing and blogging just about telling stories of how you had some ridiculous upheaval and how you overcame it? I can write about that until the cows come home.

I was determined to write these stories and send them out to anyone, everyone and no one. I hit up all the high authority sites right away. No small fry stuff for this girl. I have great stories and someone needs to read them.

“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.” – William Faulkner

Was I in for a surprise

Apparently not everyone wants to read your stories. Apparently not everyone thinks your stories are great. Apparently not everyone thinks you’re a good writer. I thought this freelance writing stuff would come easy. I can write dammit and I’m friggin’ good at it! They’ll see.

It just didn’t work like that. As I worked my regular full time day job as a hairstylist I continued to write my heart out, before and after work, determined to leave this life behind and become a freelance writer. Little did I know. 8 months of cutting hair and blogging for free taught me many many things about myself and the freelance world.

Here are the 5 things you better have if you want to make it as a freelancer:

1. Determination

You must be all in or all out. There is no in between. You can’t let up or stop for one single minute. You want to be a freelancer, you must give it 100%. This gig isn’t for half assers or sissies. Nope. Only the hardcore, diehard peeps with a strong deep desire for a life of freedom will make it here. There is no giving up. Ever.

2. Passion

If you don’t feel it, you won’t be able to do it. It has to come from deep down in your heart, soul and belly. The reason you want to do this must consume you (and the reason should be more than just money). You should be eating, living and breathing this passion you have to become a freelancer otherwise you’re already doing it for the wrong reasons and you won’t be happy. Trust me on that one.

3. Persistence

Never ever give up and don’t take no for an answer. If a million people say no to you, remember someone is going to say yes. If someone said no a million times keep at it. Figure out what you did wrong and polish up your skills (all the no’s will give you ample opportunity to do just that).

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” – E.L. Doctorow

4. Open mindedness

Stay open to learning new things. Stay open to networking and connecting with others. You will need to collaborate with other bloggers and people who are already doing this for a living in order to learn. You will need to throw your net out far and wide and take in all sorts of wondrous tools. Get ready to step way out of your comfort zone.

5. Confidence

This was a biggie for me. I was pitbull, determined to make it so no amount of no’s was going to get in my way. There were some days I honestly did feel like throwing in the towel (we all have days like that) but I would brush off my butt and lick my wounded ego and keep at it. Have confidence in your skills. Just because 10 people don’t want your stuff doesn’t mean there isn’t 10 out there who do! Remember that. You ARE good at what you do.

Do you have what it takes? Of course you do! It took me almost 9 months before I finally cracked the freelance world and another year to become a full time freelancer. There is no try and there is no giving up. I always tell people, if I can do it, so can you.

What are the obstacles you’re facing right now as a freelance? Comment below!

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5 Crucial Skills to Take Your Business and Relationships to New Heights

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Our personal relationships are very powerful and provide us with a crash course of exponential growth both personally and professionally. You learn an exceptional amount of information about who you are as a person, how you communicate, manage your emotions and discover traits you were blissfully unaware of.

Of course everyone wants to hear the beautiful love story you so often hear from others. Man and woman meet, fall madly in love, get married and live happily ever after. However, as we all know the fairytale ending is no guarantee.

I met a spontaneous, generous, successful and much older businessman and we dated for a short period of time. I was deliriously happy and determined for everything to turn out perfectly. As expected, he had mastered the art of knowing all the right buttons to push and exactly the right words to say.

I can compare this experience to a going for a long drive in the country. I was speeding down the highway of life, aiming to maintain my complete denial of everything happening around me. To the point that I missed every stop sign, damaged the car from all of the potholes I failed to navigate, and I had several minor accidents along the way.  You name it, I ignored every single red flag that was saying take a detour, choose a different road and look the other way, keep moving forward yet choose a different direction.

Unfortunately, it all came to a grinding halt, when the car burst into flames in the middle of a local National Park causing a wild bushfire. This analogy clearly illustrates the ending of this relationship and the danger of becoming obsessed with a personal goal to the point where it sabotages all your efforts to attain your goal and safely reach your destination.

The brilliant news is that this crash course of exponential growth led to pivotal business lessons that can also help you achieve outstanding results this year. The 5 key business lessons you can develop include:

1. Individual Connection vs Wolf Pack

Be mindful and understand the differences between communicating well with an individual and a team otherwise known as a wolf pack. Notice the differences in the communication, it can be very different. An individual interaction may be far easier than dealing with the wolfpack or vice versa. Pay attention when in both scenarios as it will be highly beneficial for professional career and help you to enhance both new and existing professional relationships.

2. Monumental Giving

Wow, I thought I was a generous person however I quickly realized I had more work to do in this area. This man raised a lot of funds for charities that were close to his heart both personally and via his businesses and he was very proud of his achievement as he should be.

What I liked the most however was the way he built the company culture although he was well renowned for his tough exterior, he did go out of his way to be generous to employees  at all levels within the company and he took the time to get to know them personally despite the number of businesses he was operating at any one time.

“Giving is the master key for success in all applications of life” – Bryant McGill

3. Fanatical Focus

Irrespective of the activity he was engaged in on any given day. From closing a business deal, speaking to a colleague or business associate, negotiating a lease to building his stock portfolio. He was unbelievably fanatically focused on that one activity and ensured that the activity was completed to a very high standard.

Anything less was deemed unprofessional and unacceptable. His unwavering focus was very valuable in making business decisions and closing deals, over delivering on budget, making quick decisions and maintaining relationships.

4. Beware of the ‘Little’ Things

We have heard it before, don’t stress or make a big deal about the little things. When you learn to manage your emotions effectively and allow things to occur rather than resist or get upset about it, life becomes far easier and enjoyable. It allows you to retain your energy for the important things in life and manage actual stressful situations as they arise.

5. Master Communicator

This man was extremely tough and very guarded however, he acted like everyone’s best friend. He understood a lot about how people communicate from their tone of voice, the words they say to how fast or slow they spoke, and he was a master at reading non-verbal communication in both men and women.

“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you are willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” – Brian Tracy

To build a powerful network in business, it is imperative to begin by learning the essentials in communication. Start by researching how to read body language and what various poses or facial expressions mean. By understanding others, you can also adapt your own communication style to become a ‘Master Communicator’ and rapidly improve your overall business results.

As we enter the start of the New Year, now is the perfect time to hone these 5 crucial business skills to take your business and relationships to new heights.

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The One Strategy to Help You Create Meaningful Work

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This past week I had dinner with a friend who had recently returned from Japan. While hearing about her trip, the Japanese concept of Ikigai came up and had stayed on my mind for days. I found it really compelling and couldn’t help but delve into the topic. (more…)

Vanya Lazarova is a certified professional coach, specializing in helping people create their life's work by starting with purpose and authenticity. She loves writing, reading, psychology, philosophy, arts and all forms of self- expression. She co-founded a personal development podcast called "The Coaching Journal", where she offers thought provoking concepts to empower people intentionally design the life they want to have. You can find more about Vanya and the work she does on her website www.LiveAuthentic.net and at her podcast The Coaching Journal.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Lorraine Haataia

    Dec 20, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    What a terrific list! Thank you for so many #productivity reminders in one place!

  2. Ola Rybacka

    Oct 12, 2017 at 5:09 am

    Hi, Max!
    I’m happy to inform you that this post is featured in the recent part of TimeCamp’s weekly Productivity Articles roundup! Find “Getting Things Done Smarter: 10 Best Productivity Articles! 8/10/27” on https://www.timecamp.com/blog/.
    Thank you for sharing these excellent productivity and time management tips!
    Ola Rybacka, SM Manager at TimeCamp

  3. Elliot

    Dec 7, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    My favorite piece of advice is the brain dump twice a week.

  4. Dylan

    Dec 5, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    This is a very informative list, thanks for sharing it.

  5. Keri Vandongen

    Nov 30, 2016 at 12:19 am

    Your comprehensive list should be useful for every entrepreneur, Max!
    My favourite 3 are learning to say NO more often, being task-oriented versus following a to-do list, and reducing decision fatigue.
    Another hack I’d add would be leaving unscheduled time each day. This advice came from Chris Brogan – the fastest way to burnout is to operate at maximum capacity for too long.
    ~Keri

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7 Awesome Tips for Entrepreneurs to Create an Inspiring Vision Board

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creating a vision board

Vision boards are one of the most powerful success tools that can do wonders to inspire and motivate you, and put you in the right frame of mind. Whether you use them for your business or personal life, creating and using a vision board also adds a bit of fun to your routine, while activating the Law of Attraction and drawing your wants and desires into your life!

If you’re ready to get started, here are 7 tips that you’ll find helpful in creating an inspiring vision board.

1. Be Clear About Its Use

Your vision board is going to be a visualization tool, carrying images and words that will drive you to achieve your goals and fulfill your dreams. As such, don’t move forward with your vision board thinking of it as a wish list or a to-do list.

Note that there are different types of vision boards. If you’re very clear about what you want or you want something specific to happen in your business, you can create an ‘I know exactly what I want’ board. An ‘Allowing’ vision board is for visions and goals that you’re not quite sure about, or if you know that circumstantial changes are to be expected. If you’re working on a particular aspect of your life or are focusing on a specific business goal, a ‘Theme’ vision board will be right for you.

2. Get the Pre-Work Going

Yes, there’s pre-work to be done before you begin creating your vision board! Start with assessing what you’ve desired for your business and personal life over the past 6-12 months. Think of areas like branding, sales, or public speaking, and list goals and intentions in each category that you want to bring change or grow in over time.

Remember to set aside ample amount of time for this activity. You can’t list desires or goals while you’re rushing your lunch or in-between meetings! Sit where you can get some peace and quiet, meditate for a while, and ask yourself what it is that you truly want.

Let visuals and emotions flow freely through your mind, and let this process make for a deeper, meaningful experience. You might want to play some soft, soothing music as you dwell on what’s important to you!

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

3. Narrow Down

Business goals, and quite a few personal goals, can be long-term, requiring you to put in time and effort. By having too many such goals on your mind, you might get overwhelmed easily. Instead, think in terms of baby steps and break down your goals into simpler, manageable steps.

An easy way to do this is to create action plans outlining individual tasks. Make sure you have clearly defined actions so it’s easier to make progress. You can also consider creating time-based milestones.

As an example, if your goals include making more money or expanding your business, don’t just add ‘Make More Money’ or ‘Expand Business’ to your list. Perhaps you need to focus on sales or new product releases to increase revenue that you can further use to support business expansion!

4. Gather Representational Images

Flip through your favorite magazines and see if the images catch your eye. You can also browse images online and download and print the ones you like. A word of advice: Don’t let your perfectionism get in the way and compel you to continue your quest for ideal images! This way, you’ll never find what you’re looking for and you could end up not completing the exercise.

Most importantly, don’t think when choosing images, but feel. This will keep you from perceiving images in a conventional way! In addition to this, don’t stop yourself from picking images that aren’t connected to each other rationally; it’s fine to put up whatever resonates with you on your vision board. Do pick a handful of motivational affirmation words too.

5. Arrange Right

Have a theme and format in mind for your vision board. You can look for inspiration online, but follow your heart if you want to do something original! You might want to accessorize your board with colorful paper, stickers, and more. Keep in mind that all colors impact us differently, so if you’re looking to create a board that gives off calm, pleasing vibes, a red-themed board won’t serve the purpose.

Another thing to be mindful of is that having too many pictures on a single vision board can prevent you from focusing on your goals. To avoid clutter, only choose pictures that inspire you the most. Alternatively, consider creating two vision boards.

6. Put It to Use

No matter how inspiring your vision board is, it will fail to inspire you if you put it up in an obscure place like behind a door or in the cupboard. So put your board up where you can see it every day. This doesn’t mean it’s okay to put it up near a toilet though! Think of a place where you can stand or sit for a while each day and get positive vibes as you view your vision board.

The way you view your vision board also matters! Simply glancing at it won’t produce the results you want, so commit to studying the contents of your vision board for at least 5 minutes, once a day. Read quotes and affirmations that you’ve put up aloud and with conviction. Be careful of resorting to daydreaming; you want to visualize how you’ll work to attain your goals, not just envision your life after you achieve all that you want.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

7. Redo the Board as Needed

You don’t have to stick with the same vision board arrangement for the whole year! There are bound to be changes in your life, so feel free to re-arrange images and affirmation words to reflect the same. Do leave some blank space so you can add new goals as they come along.

Bear in mind that you shouldn’t feel pressurized to have a new arrangement for every month of the year. A vision board only needs to be redone in the event of major changes that affect your outlook and focus.

Don’t let doubts creep in. Every time you look at your vision board, take a deep breath, smile, and tell yourself that you’re closer to achieving your dreams.So get started on creating your inspiring vision board, and let it fire you up to turn your dreams into reality!

How has your vision board helped you? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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10 “Brick-In-The-Head” Moments You’ll Encounter as an Entrepreneur

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The entrepreneurial life is one of the most challenging, stressful and risky avenues to success you could possibly choose. The issue with doing it alone in business ventures is exactly that; you’re alone. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be driven, thick-skinned, and ready for any curve balls.

Here is a list of 10 ‘brick-in-the-head’ moments you’ll need to overcome on your path to becoming a market leader:

1. Letting criticism get to you

The ways society deals with ambition and success is very odd, and you may feel like you’re unfairly criticised by your peers regularly. The reality is that you’ll encounter plenty of jealousy and bitterness during the course of your career.

This isn’t to say that all criticism is malicious – constructive critique can go a long way. But remember that nobody understands your vision better than you. Remember that the art of good entrepreneurship is to delve where nobody else is willing to go.

When Bill Gates decided to offer his Internet Explorer browser as a free package with his Operating Systems in 1995, it was considered a counter-intuitive move by some, but ended up being the cornerstone for Microsoft’s resounding dominance.

2. The temptation of ignoring constructive criticism

While it’s worth adopting a thick skin to allow unjust criticism to bounce off of you, it’s also important to know when to take it on board and consider constructive comments. As you’re taking the leap into controlling your own business, sometimes it can become too easy to concentrate on the nuances of your work and miss the bigger picture. Take the time to consider advice that you are offered – if it fits in with your vision, then it may be worth taking.

3. Keeping on top of your cash flow

Making sure you’re focused on your finances is one of the biggest parts of being an entrepreneur – after all, it’s all about making money.

If you’re worried about your cash flow, then it’s probably a good sign. All entrepreneurs struggle with money at times in their careers – and so if you don’t keep an eye on your figures then you risk showing signs of complacency. If your figures are really getting to you, then it might be a good idea to skim through your finances and start saving cents here and there.

4. Facing the unknown

One of the most anxiety-inducing moments is being kept up all night wondering which way your venture’s going to go. Entrepreneurship is a volatile career, and coming to terms with the unknown is a big part of the life that comes with it.

Prevention is better than a cure when it comes to dealing with the uncertainty of building businesses. Try to manage your resources well – it could save a lot of worrying a little bit further down the line.

“Many times, the thought of fear itself is greater than what it is we fear.” – Idowu Koyenikan

5. Abandoning your previous career or education

Often the first step on your path to success can be the most difficult and stressful. You could be leaving a comfortable job, or abandoning your studies to go and pursue an idea that, no matter how good, is not guaranteed success.

Here it’s once again advisable to make sure only you have the final word on the route you take in life. Be sure to listen to the advice that those close to you have to offer but just remember that the choice is yours.

6. Time management

Difficulties with time management can be a big cause of stress when setting up your own business.

The most stressful aspect of this could be that you neglect other parts of your life in order to oversee the successful running of the company.

Juggling your time is perhaps the primary problem that is faced by entrepreneurs. You have to make sure you focus on your output, marketing and networking all at the same time, which can get overwhelming.

Here, the best remedy is to keep records of your tasks and goals using available tools. One should set rotas of where to invest their time and attention over the course of a coming week. It might not seem like much, but it could lift a heavy burden off of your head.

7. Making the right decisions

As an entrepreneur, the significance of the decisions you make could mean life or death for your business. This burden can weigh you down heavily. Remember the very best in the industry make the wrong decisions, and many of the greatest entrepreneurs today have gotten into the position they’re in through trial and error.

The markets are often volatile, and extraneous circumstances which could never be accounted for can come into play. One must find a way of coping with the process of making company defining decisions, and once you’ve become confident enough to take big decisions in your stride, you’ll be well on the way to industry success.

8. Staying true to your vision

Things have a habit of changing very quickly in business. You’ll need to adapt to the ever-shifting sands and stay true to your vision. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Construct a mission statement for your business that you can refer back to in order to hold on to the reason you decided to pursue your idea in the first place. Sometimes seeing what you’re working towards written down can be enough to keep you focused on your goals.

“You have to understand your own personal DNA. Don’t do things because I do them or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban tried it. You need to know your personal brand and stay true to it.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

9. Team building

Here it’s important to recruit not only the most skilled candidate but the candidate that’ll best fit into your vision for the office culture. Sometimes finding a confident and engaging candidate is a critical factor in recruiting for a job that requires plenty of teamwork and client interaction. The best course of action for lowering the stress of team building is to look for candidates that express themselves in a way that fits the business work ethic best.

10. Dealing with failure

Virtually every entrepreneur has to face the prospect of failure at multiple points in their career. The best way to avoid becoming bogged down by an unsuccessful business is to see it as an exercise in trial and error. Learn from your mistakes, and if your startup has failed, what caused it to fail?

Welcome failure as a valuable learning tool, and jump back into the industry you desire to improve. Improve your original idea or find another one because the life of a successful entrepreneur is built on plenty of experiences and lessons – many of which were learnt the hard way.

What other encounters have you had as an entrepreneur? Comment Below!

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5 Things You Must Have in Order to Succeed as a Freelancer

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Up until about 3 years ago, I honestly had no idea what a freelancer even was. It sounded like a cool job title and I secretly envied people who could call themselves one. Didn’t they get to travel the world with a laptop and go sailing and sip margaritas beside some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet? Yup, I wanted to be a freelancer.

I wanted in on this action. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I was sure I could pull this off, couldn’t I?

The Mystery Slowly Unravelled

And so began the digging and sniffing around. The more research I did, the more I realized this wasn’t for the faint of heart. I took in as many blogs and pdf’s as I could. I watched YouTube tutorials until my eyes bled. I took in everything I could about it.

I decided that I could easily become a freelance writer. I got good writing skills (did you catch that?) thanks to so many letters written to ex boyfriends behaving badly, and my journal. Yup, I could definitely be a writer.

So now what? Now the real work begins. So you want to be a writer, huh? Get ready girl. You have tons of work ahead of you. Little did I know.

Can’t I just tell stories?

I just wanted to write about all my crazy life stories ‘cause Lord knows I have a million. Surely someone will want to read them, no? Isn’t writing and blogging just about telling stories of how you had some ridiculous upheaval and how you overcame it? I can write about that until the cows come home.

I was determined to write these stories and send them out to anyone, everyone and no one. I hit up all the high authority sites right away. No small fry stuff for this girl. I have great stories and someone needs to read them.

“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.” – William Faulkner

Was I in for a surprise

Apparently not everyone wants to read your stories. Apparently not everyone thinks your stories are great. Apparently not everyone thinks you’re a good writer. I thought this freelance writing stuff would come easy. I can write dammit and I’m friggin’ good at it! They’ll see.

It just didn’t work like that. As I worked my regular full time day job as a hairstylist I continued to write my heart out, before and after work, determined to leave this life behind and become a freelance writer. Little did I know. 8 months of cutting hair and blogging for free taught me many many things about myself and the freelance world.

Here are the 5 things you better have if you want to make it as a freelancer:

1. Determination

You must be all in or all out. There is no in between. You can’t let up or stop for one single minute. You want to be a freelancer, you must give it 100%. This gig isn’t for half assers or sissies. Nope. Only the hardcore, diehard peeps with a strong deep desire for a life of freedom will make it here. There is no giving up. Ever.

2. Passion

If you don’t feel it, you won’t be able to do it. It has to come from deep down in your heart, soul and belly. The reason you want to do this must consume you (and the reason should be more than just money). You should be eating, living and breathing this passion you have to become a freelancer otherwise you’re already doing it for the wrong reasons and you won’t be happy. Trust me on that one.

3. Persistence

Never ever give up and don’t take no for an answer. If a million people say no to you, remember someone is going to say yes. If someone said no a million times keep at it. Figure out what you did wrong and polish up your skills (all the no’s will give you ample opportunity to do just that).

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” – E.L. Doctorow

4. Open mindedness

Stay open to learning new things. Stay open to networking and connecting with others. You will need to collaborate with other bloggers and people who are already doing this for a living in order to learn. You will need to throw your net out far and wide and take in all sorts of wondrous tools. Get ready to step way out of your comfort zone.

5. Confidence

This was a biggie for me. I was pitbull, determined to make it so no amount of no’s was going to get in my way. There were some days I honestly did feel like throwing in the towel (we all have days like that) but I would brush off my butt and lick my wounded ego and keep at it. Have confidence in your skills. Just because 10 people don’t want your stuff doesn’t mean there isn’t 10 out there who do! Remember that. You ARE good at what you do.

Do you have what it takes? Of course you do! It took me almost 9 months before I finally cracked the freelance world and another year to become a full time freelancer. There is no try and there is no giving up. I always tell people, if I can do it, so can you.

What are the obstacles you’re facing right now as a freelance? Comment below!

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5 Crucial Skills to Take Your Business and Relationships to New Heights

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Our personal relationships are very powerful and provide us with a crash course of exponential growth both personally and professionally. You learn an exceptional amount of information about who you are as a person, how you communicate, manage your emotions and discover traits you were blissfully unaware of.

Of course everyone wants to hear the beautiful love story you so often hear from others. Man and woman meet, fall madly in love, get married and live happily ever after. However, as we all know the fairytale ending is no guarantee.

I met a spontaneous, generous, successful and much older businessman and we dated for a short period of time. I was deliriously happy and determined for everything to turn out perfectly. As expected, he had mastered the art of knowing all the right buttons to push and exactly the right words to say.

I can compare this experience to a going for a long drive in the country. I was speeding down the highway of life, aiming to maintain my complete denial of everything happening around me. To the point that I missed every stop sign, damaged the car from all of the potholes I failed to navigate, and I had several minor accidents along the way.  You name it, I ignored every single red flag that was saying take a detour, choose a different road and look the other way, keep moving forward yet choose a different direction.

Unfortunately, it all came to a grinding halt, when the car burst into flames in the middle of a local National Park causing a wild bushfire. This analogy clearly illustrates the ending of this relationship and the danger of becoming obsessed with a personal goal to the point where it sabotages all your efforts to attain your goal and safely reach your destination.

The brilliant news is that this crash course of exponential growth led to pivotal business lessons that can also help you achieve outstanding results this year. The 5 key business lessons you can develop include:

1. Individual Connection vs Wolf Pack

Be mindful and understand the differences between communicating well with an individual and a team otherwise known as a wolf pack. Notice the differences in the communication, it can be very different. An individual interaction may be far easier than dealing with the wolfpack or vice versa. Pay attention when in both scenarios as it will be highly beneficial for professional career and help you to enhance both new and existing professional relationships.

2. Monumental Giving

Wow, I thought I was a generous person however I quickly realized I had more work to do in this area. This man raised a lot of funds for charities that were close to his heart both personally and via his businesses and he was very proud of his achievement as he should be.

What I liked the most however was the way he built the company culture although he was well renowned for his tough exterior, he did go out of his way to be generous to employees  at all levels within the company and he took the time to get to know them personally despite the number of businesses he was operating at any one time.

“Giving is the master key for success in all applications of life” – Bryant McGill

3. Fanatical Focus

Irrespective of the activity he was engaged in on any given day. From closing a business deal, speaking to a colleague or business associate, negotiating a lease to building his stock portfolio. He was unbelievably fanatically focused on that one activity and ensured that the activity was completed to a very high standard.

Anything less was deemed unprofessional and unacceptable. His unwavering focus was very valuable in making business decisions and closing deals, over delivering on budget, making quick decisions and maintaining relationships.

4. Beware of the ‘Little’ Things

We have heard it before, don’t stress or make a big deal about the little things. When you learn to manage your emotions effectively and allow things to occur rather than resist or get upset about it, life becomes far easier and enjoyable. It allows you to retain your energy for the important things in life and manage actual stressful situations as they arise.

5. Master Communicator

This man was extremely tough and very guarded however, he acted like everyone’s best friend. He understood a lot about how people communicate from their tone of voice, the words they say to how fast or slow they spoke, and he was a master at reading non-verbal communication in both men and women.

“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you are willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” – Brian Tracy

To build a powerful network in business, it is imperative to begin by learning the essentials in communication. Start by researching how to read body language and what various poses or facial expressions mean. By understanding others, you can also adapt your own communication style to become a ‘Master Communicator’ and rapidly improve your overall business results.

As we enter the start of the New Year, now is the perfect time to hone these 5 crucial business skills to take your business and relationships to new heights.

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