When you’re running a business, it can be easy for the days and weeks to just pass in a blur. Phone calls, emails, unexpected issues – they all add up to feeling reactive and always a step or two behind the eight ball. Not only is this feeling unsettling, but it’s also not conducive to successfully running a business. The antidote? A more intentional approach.
Here are five ways you can bring greater intention to the day-to-day running of your business.
1. Start each day with a plan
Tell me if this sounds familiar: you sit down at your desk in the morning, fire up your email program, get drawn into the busywork of responding, and then come up for air hours later to discover it’s nearly lunchtime. You wonder ‘Where has the day gone already?’, but resolve to get to your bigger, more time-consuming tasks after lunch. When you return to your desk after lunch though, you think ‘I’ll just quickly clear my inbox before tackling all my big jobs for the day’. Next thing, it’s 3pm and now you’re dealing with the self-loathing of ‘How is it 3pm and I haven’t done any ‘real work’ yet?’
It’s so easy to be seduced away from harder, more brain-heavy, time-consuming business tasks. But it’s those brain-heavy, time-consuming tasks that are usually the ones that generate income for us.
Taking a few minutes at the start of each workday to note down the two to three income-generating tasks that must be done that day is an easy way to bring more intention to your day, and helps ensure the execution of those tasks doesn’t get derailed by busywork.
2. Set strong boundaries
If you’ve ever answered the phone when you’re in the middle of an important task, eaten lunch at your desk while continuing to work, or allowed work to spill over into your evenings and weekends … then you’ve experienced what life’s like when your boundaries between work and life soften.
While you can’t avoid these things happening some of the time, they shouldn’t be the norm.
It might feel like you have to answer the phone if it rings, but you actually don’t. If you were in a meeting, you wouldn’t be able to answer the call and in all but the most urgent situations, the person on the other end will be fine to wait for an hour for you to call them back. While it’s tempting to ‘just quickly answer this email’ (the one that’s come through at 7pm), doing so sends the message that you’re always available to clients. Being willing to answer work calls once you’re at home takes time away from your family.
Setting strong boundaries between work and life is an important aspect of being intentional in your business. It ensures you’re getting the mental break you need to come at work with good energy each day.
3. Create clear mechanisms for feedback
It’s hard to improve your business operations if you’re not receiving feedback from your clients about what you’re doing well, and what you could be doing better. But you don’t want to be receiving this feedback willy-nilly. Feedback that’s sometimes an email, sometimes a phone call and sometimes some idle words delivered at the end of a meeting can be difficult to process properly.
To address this, you could (for example) create a form that gathers all the information you need from someone wishing to provide feedback (including the most important thing – what outcome they’re seeking). This means that instead of someone emailing or ringing you to download and engage in time-consuming, soul-destroying back and forth, you can direct them to the form, ensure you’re getting all the information you need to deliver a swift resolution … and ensure you and your business are in control of the feedback rather than the feedback controlling you.
4. Choose your inputs carefully
Podcasts, books, blog articles, social media posts, conferences, seminars, meet ups, workshops – we all know knowledge is power. Which makes it very tempting to try and take on every bit of information from every place that wants to offer it to us. After all, we don’t want to miss out on that one nugget that might be THE key that unlocks all our business’ potential.
The reality, however, is there is no one nugget. And taking in all the information available to us just makes us feel overwhelmed at best, inadequate at worst.
It’s important to be judicious about where we’re taking in information from, and how often. You don’t need to listen to a podcast on every walk or run you do. You don’t need to click through to every article you see on social media. Being intentional about the number of inputs you engage with daily will gift you the mental whitespace that comes from not being in processing mode all the time.
5. Remember: where your focus goes, energy flows
It’s Tony Robbins who once noted the above before going on to say, “Where energy flows, whatever you’re focusing on grows.”
By tapping into the power of intention each day, you’re ensuring your focus is on the things that are truly important:
- Work that makes you money and helps you feel you’re making a difference;
- The building of relationships in both work and life;
- The clear headspace you need to be able to appreciate the above.
When all these things are growing a little bit each day, you get to enjoy the sweet spot that occurs when you feel you’re accomplishing something meaningful in both work and life.
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