In the era of fake news, many media outlets are hungry for research on relevant opinions and trends that relate to current issues. Yet most companies have no idea how to take advantage of this.
In today’s overcrowded PR landscape, small businesses are always on the lookout for ways to stand apart from their competitors. Polls, surveys and studies are some of the most powerful, cost-effective ways to promote brand awareness for your business.
By creating and conducting a legitimate survey. One that relates to your business, book, product or cause, you can establish yourself as a thought leader in your field and likely grab some media attention.
But to get the media to sit up and take notice, you need to do something more than just ask a few random questions. To make your survey something a busy editor will want to pick up and publish, follow these guidelines:
Use a combination of questions.
Don’t get caught up in the idea that you can only gain coverage by asking quirky questions. While a few creative questions may serve as attention grabbers, they should be balanced with credible ones, which compel an editor to cover a story.
For example: When online discount travel service Travelzoo.com sponsored a survey, they asked people more creative questions, such as “Would you be willing to stand on a cross-country flight in order to save 50 percent off the cost of the airline ticket?” They also asked more traditional market research questions, such as “Do you expect to be traveling more or less than last year for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday?”
Avoid obvious commercials and self-promotion.
Your survey should be focused on the data you have gathered, not your company. Instead, make your release about the bigger picture of the survey and the story behind it.
The idea is that by being the sponsor of a great story–not the star–you will achieve media coverage and visibility with your target market.
Show, don’t tell.
As more businesses use surveys as part of their branding and marketing strategy, they are turning to do-it-yourself tools to accommodate their needs. But whether you create the survey yourself or hire a professional firm to do so on your behalf, to be credible, it needs to be conducted in a scientific manner.
To emphasize to the media that the survey your company has sponsored is based in proper research protocols, you should include:
- Name of the research vendor
- Margin of error
- Dates the study was conducted
- Sample size used
- Methods used in conducting the survey
Remember, the press and media are constantly on the lookout for relevant and timely surveys that they can “hook” a story around. Provide them with a well-crafted, properly researched and interestingly reported study or survey, and your company could find itself swimming in ink.
This article originally appeated on Inc.com.
Between phone and Skype calls, teleclasses, speeches and business meetings, I talk a lot — which means keeping my vocal cords in shape is a priority. So, when I feel the seasonal sniffles coming on, or the ice-cold draft of air-conditioning on a long flight, the panic rises in my throat.
The average cold can wreak havoc on your vocal cords causing inflammation, soreness and a croaky sound that I imagine is what a frog playing a kazoo might sound like. But when you’re facing an impending public presentation or performance, vocal strain can become a major concern.
I interviewed Christina Hager, a professional opera singer for ten years and current presentation coach. Here’s what she had to say about keeping your voice in top shape, even when winter is coming:
Drink 12 glasses of water a day.
I’ll admit it, I’m not a water person, but apparently staying hydrated is one of the keys to taking care of our voices. “When it’s hot outside, we are more cognizant of drinking water and rehydrating,” says Hager, who holds a Masters in Vocal Performances from the Moores School of Music. “However, when it is cold out, and heaters are blasting everywhere — that is very drying to the voice.”
Hager currently coaches businesspeople on giving presentations and suggests drinking a minimum of eight to ten glasses of water a day–or, if you use your voice a lot, up to 12. Oh, and don’t forget to sip water liberally on your next flight. Any time of year, airplanes are notoriously dry environments.
Sip on warm liquid, but skip the coffee.
Hager says that it’s important to keep your voice not only moist, but warm. While sipping hot tea or water works, she advises against coffee since caffeine has a drying effect on the voice.
Steam it up at night.
The voice tends to dry out overnight, especially with the heat blasting during the winter months. Hotel rooms can be particularly challenging since temperature control is often unreliable.
Experts recommend using a humidifier when you sleep to keep the air moist. Small humidifiers are available for travel.
If you don’t have one, try filling the sink or an ice bucket with water before you go to bed. “Some of the moisture will dissipate into the air during the night and you will wake up feeling better,” Hager explains.
Watch the wine.
Fall and winter bring on the holidays, which means parties with an abundance of food — and drink. Since wine (and alcohol in general) is drying to the voice, it’s a good idea to moderate your intake–and if you’re recovering from a cold, abstain altogether.
Also, beware of overeating. It can cause acid reflux — a huge stressor on the throat and vocal cords.
“Besides being mindful of what you are drinking and eating, consider using an over-the-counter reflux medication and propping the top half of your bed on risers to decrease the effects of the acid on your throat,” suggests Hager. If the problems persists or gets worse, it’s important to see an ear, nose and throat doctor to talk about the reflux and other treatments.
Rinse out your sinuses.
“Dry, brittle sinuses are more susceptible to infections,” says Hager, so rinsing your sinuses nightly helps to keep the nasal passages hydrated and free of germs. If you experience dryness during the day, you can use a saline spray to moisten your sinuses.
Finally, if all else fails, try this tasty brew:
Take either a red onion sliced in half or several chunks of fresh ginger and boil in water until soft. Then add a quarter cup of lemon juice, two to three tablespoons of honey, a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar, and a touch of ground cayenne pepper to the mix. Simmer on low for an additional ten minutes and remove the ginger or red onion.
Once cool enough, sip throughout the day to keep your voice in fighting shape for your next big speech.
This article originally appeared on Inc.com.
I have a ritual I perform every night before I go to bed in a hotel room. I take a towel from the bathroom and strategically place it over the digital clock by the bed. I do this because I find the blue light emanating from the devise disturbing to my sleep.
My previous husband always commented on how strange he found my clock-covering behavior, and he questioned the impact such a small colored light could have on the quality of my sleep. But some new research from the University of Haifa and Assuta Sleep Clinic has vindicated me.
Beware the little blue light.
According to the study the short-wavelength blue light, which is often used in digital tabletop clocks, damages not only the duration but the quality of our sleep. “The light emitted by most screens — computers, smartphones, and tablets — is blue light that damages the body’s cycles and our sleep,” explains Prof. Abraham Haim from the University of Haifa, one of the authors of the study.
The most significant result of the study was the disruption of sleep caused by contact with blue light. Specifically, 6.7 awakenings were recorded, rising to as many as 7.6 awakenings following exposure to strong blue light. No surprise, the participants reported that they felt more tired and in a worse mood after exposure to the blue light.
But it’s not just the bothersome blue light that can impact and disrupt your sleep; a whole spate of recent studies has shed light on the impact a lack of sleep can have on our lives and leadership. Here are a few of the important things to factor in before you head off to bed.
A rough night’s sleep makes you less emotionally intelligent.
According to new research published in the journal Neurobiology of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms, participants who were sleep deprived, versus well rested, had a harder time identifying the facial expressions of happiness or sadness the following day.
The research conducted by William D.S. Killgore, a University of Arizona professor of psychiatry, found that the identification of more primitive emotions — such as anger, fear, surprise and disgust — were not impaired.
“If someone is going to hurt you, even when you’re sleep deprived you should still be able to pick up on that,” Killgore said. “Reading whether somebody is sad or not is really not that important in that acute danger situation, so if anything is going to start to degrade with lack of sleep it might be the ability to recognize those social emotions.”
Sleep-tracking devices may be costing you Z’s.
Currently, an estimated 15 percent of U.S. adults own a wearable fitness/sleep-tracking device, such as Fitbit or Apple Watch, and another 50 percent might consider buying one. But a new case study published in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine reports that we may be taking our nighttime data measuring too far.
When it comes to sleep, that enthusiasm for the devices may overshadow what they can deliver. “It’s great that so many people want to improve their sleep. However, the claims of these devices really outweigh validation of what they have shown to be doing,” says the report’s lead author, psychologist Kelly Glazer Baron, PhD, MPH. “They don’t do a good job of estimating sleep accurately.”
Baron goes onto explain that for many people who are pursuing the “quantified self,” the daily acquisition of data to enhance their mental and physical life has become a stressful activity within itself. Apparently, these snooze scientists have even coined a term for it — “orthosomnia,” meaning “correct sleep.” Baron points out that any intense fixation on data — especially potentially inaccurate data — can hinder efforts to assist patients struggling with sleep disorders.
Not enough sleep leads to riskier decision-making.
Researchers at the University of Zurich have identified a critical consequence of a chronic lack of sleep: increased risk-seeking. Students in the study who slept only 5 hours a night for a week showed clearly riskier behavior in comparison with a normal sleep duration of about 8 hours. It’s worthwhile to note that a single sleepless night had no effect on risk-seeking.
The most alarming part of the study, however, was that the weary study participants did not assess their risk-taking behavior to be the same as under regular sleep conditions. “We do not notice ourselves that we are acting riskier when suffering from a lack of sleep,” emphasizes Christian Baumann, professor of neurology and the head of the Clinical Research Priority Programs (CRPP) “Sleep and Health” at UZH.
So tonight before you drift off, turn off the blue light, unstrap the sleep monitor, and set the alarm to not go off for at least 7 hours. You’ll be happier and smarter for it in the morning.
This article originally appeared on Inc.com.
Almost every business person I’ve ever met can recite the customer experience mantra from memory: “Carefully listening to and responding to your customers’ complaints builds loyalty and yields valuable information about how service can be improved.”
Yet despite knowing the right words, most companies forget to focus on these “hidden gems” of feedback, and when they do, they do a poor job of using this information to make the customer experience as positive as possible. So when I sat down next to Dutta Satadip, Director of Customer Success in Americas for Google at a recent conference lunch, I knew I had met a customer care soulmate.
As I sat talking to Dutta, I realized that his approach and words of wisdom had many small business applications. I asked him to weigh in on how to create happy customers — the Google way. Here’s what he had to say.
1. Start by understanding engagement.
“As you acquire customers, it is important to understand exactly why — and why not — someone is choosing your product or service, and how they feel about the transaction” says Satadip.
One of the simplest ways small businesses can do this is to send a short online survey, after someone has signed on or after they have posed questions via Internet or phone. By using a tool such as Survey Monkey, you can create a link at the end of an email that allows the customer to click through and answer two to four questions.
The purpose of the survey is to measure the customer’s Transactional Satisfaction and look for ways to improve the initial connection between the client and company. Satadip cautions that while measuring Transactional Customer Satisfaction can provide great insights into what to do to improve service levels, it’s not the best predictor of long-term customer engagement.
For that, Satadip suggests that small businesses use Relationship Customer Satisfaction Surveys, which contain questions that provide customers with the opportunity to give feedback on not just one or two interactions, but on how they feel about their relationship with the company — as a whole.
2. Use the data wisely.
Gathering your customer data is one thing; making it meaningful requires understating what the underlying drivers are of the levels of engagement you have uncovered.
Satadip says that in some cases, it may be the quality of customer service, in others, a combination of service and product. “The comments in the survey responses from both the most satisfied and dissatisfied customers can help provide more color into what things could be fixed to improve engagement,” he says.
3. Not all support channels are equal.
In part, great customer experience is about clients being able to find the information they want and need to evaluate and use a product or service quickly and easily.
“The biggest challenge with this,” say Satadip, “is to provide the right information to your customers in a timely manner.” Not every support channel is equal. “You need to learn to distinguish which communication channels are the most important for your customers during the various phases of a purchase lifecycle and utilize the right channels,” he says. Some of the questions to consider include:
- Is my customer looking for someone to talk to on the phone to place an order, or does my business lend itself to the order being placed online?
- Does my website have sufficient information on it to educate my potential customers about how they can do business with me?
- Does the question phase of my interactions with customers need to be in person or on the phone?
- Is there a role that “chat” could play in my initial contact with potential customers?
4. Deprioritize action and prioritize continuous improvement.
Even when a company goes to the effort to collect data, they are often at a loss with what to do with it. Satadip says that many entrepreneurs and small businesses equate data with math, and too much math can seem overwhelming. Likewise, I have noticed a certain mental challenge and intimidation factor: “We have this data. Now what?”
I found Satadip’s take on this freshening and simple. “Don’t try and solve for all the problems you find,” he says. “Instead pick three top metrics to improve, and work on those for three months.” Once you have made meaningful progress, you can swap those out for the next most important metrics.
In my experience this type of continuous improvement approach is key to gaining ground on customer satisfaction and does so in a way that keeps the company sane. In my 25-plus years of consulting, I have seen many a well-intentioned customer-experience plan fall by the wayside due to trying to measure, manage and improve too many metrics at one time.
The thing that most struck me about my conversation with Satadip was how straightforward and commonsense his approach was. For a guy who is responsible for customer success for one of the most famous companies on the planet, he was pretty down to earth. But then again, in a world where the Internet makes almost anything possible, neither common sense, nor customer excellence, is so common.
This article originally appeared on Inc.com.
Now, I know you’re thinking, “What an obvious act of stupidity.” But when it comes to what is and isn’t appropriate to present to an employer (or potential employer), for many people, the line is not as clear as you would think.
A new survey out this week by CareerBuilder found that 75 percent of HR managers have found a lie on a resume. The reasons for these falsehoods may in part come down to the perceived need to grab a resume reader’s attention — fast.
According to the survey (which included more than 2,500 U.S. employers), 39 percent of HR managers said they spend less than a minute initially looking at a resume. Nearly one in five (19 percent) spend less than 30 seconds.
The tell-all, spin-it-the-way-you-see-it nature of social media has contributed to a rash of behaviors on resume writing that are leaving many would-be employed out in the cold. Some of the biggest gaffes noted in the survey included:
The biggest resume blunders.
- An applicant claimed to have written computer code the hiring manager had actually written. Both had the same previous job, but the applicant did not know that fact.
- An applicant included a picture with all of his pets.
- An applicant’s resume was lifted from the Internet and did not match the cover letter.
- An applicant said he had studied under Nietzsche.
- An applicant stated that he had tried and failed a certification exam three times, but was planning to try again.
- An applicant claimed to have been an anti-terrorist spy for the CIA during the time period he was in elementary school.
- An applicant falsely claimed to have a PMO credential when applying for a job at PMI, the organization that grants that credential.
- An applicant included a description of his family.
- An applicant mentioned that his hobby is watching horror movies.
So what’s a well-meaning potential worker to do to catch the attention of a company, without resorting to ridiculous stories and stupid tricks?
“If crafted well, your resume is one of the most valuable marketing tools you have,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “In a matter of seconds, it can make or break your chances of moving along the hiring journey with a company. That’s why it’s important to be proactive with your resume and avoid embellishments or mistakes. Take advantage of the tools available to you — the worst thing you can do is send a generic copy out to employers and then sit and hope for a response.”
Beyond the obvious, CareerBuilder found there were five things hiring managers said made them more likely to pay attention to an applicant:
- Create a resume that has been customized to their open position. I always advise my clients to create a one-page, visual resume that cherry picks the content most appropriate for that particular company.
- Include a cover letter with the resume. Again, this sounds obvious, but so many people just toss out a resume with no context. A cover letter gives you a chance to establish your personal brand.
- List your skill set up front and first on the resume. By leading with what you can offer, rather than what you have done in the past, you can quickly get the resume reader’s attention if you fit what they are looking for.
- Address the application to the specific hiring manager. Again, while this may seem like a “no kidding” item, it’s missed by many a would-be employee.
- Include a link to your blog, portfolio or website. It’s human nature to want to click a link and find out what lies behind the door. This is a chance to give the hiring manager more information about who you are and what you can do and to establish your personal brand at a deeper level.
Don’t be fooled by the seeming simplicity of these items. In today’s highly competitive world, first resume impressions count, as do the images that go with them.
The next time you’re tempted to stretch the truth or show a shot of you whooping it up on a weekend, skip the crazy and go for creditability instead. You might find yourself in the C-suite sooner than you think.
This article originally appeared on Inc.com.
I returned home last night from seeing a play to a slew of texts from friends commenting on the viral “me too” campaign that has hit Facebook in the past 24 hours. Honestly, I had not been paying it much attention, so I went on my site and began to scroll.
Page after page, I saw friends I had known for years who had posted two simple words: “me too.” Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. With more than 25 years in the workforce, of course I have encountered inappropriate sexual advances at work, and so have most of the women I know, and more than a few of the men as well. In short, “me too.”
And the harassment is not always sexual. As has been written in numerous articles about Harvey Weinstein recently, he was known for using abusive language and having screaming tirades.
I also thought about how, with all my training, even I am sometimes at a loss for what to say when I feel impinged upon so I asked some experts to give their best bets for phrases to halt harassment in its tracks. Here’s what they had to say:
X is harassment.
Stephany Zoo is the executive director of Phoenix Risen, a World Economic Forum-supported nonprofit that brings men and women together to talk about sexual harassment. She says that it’s all about setting clear boundaries at the start of the situation. “Make sure that you are explicit that what the perpetrator is doing is harassment,” says Zoo.
Alternative phrase: “Do not X; that’s harassment.”
Those types of comments or jokes that you’re making don’t belong in the workplace. Let’s keep things professional.
Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem, authors of The Conflict Resolution Phrase Book, say that when disruptive behavior evolves into bullying and harassment, it can be disastrous. The key is to have a respectful confrontation by pointing out inequity, setting boundaries and responding to disruptive behaviors.
Alternative phrase: “You may intend the jokes and comments to be funny, but they aren’t. They’re insulting.”
Thank you very much, but could you go back to the point you were making about X?
Attorney M. Reese Everson, author of The B.A.B.E.’s Guide to Winning in the Workplace, says that comments about your appearance (you have nice hair; your dress matches your eyes) can be meant as genuine compliments. However, if they make you feel uncomfortable or begin to cross the line, Everson says the key is to redirect the conversation back to the matter at hand.
Alternative phrase: “That was a very interesting point, and I want to be sure to put that in the report.”
Don’t touch my hair, arm, shoulder, etc.
Susan Harrow who teaches the True Shield™ verbal self-defense for girls says in addition to stopping the behavior on the spot, it’s important to tell the other person what you expect their future behavior to be.
Alternative phrase: “In the future, please ask my permission to touch me for anything other than a handshake.”
I feel threatened by this.
And leave it at that. Dr. Judi Cineas, a psychotherapist, says that when it comes to defending yourself or your space, it’s important to be definitive and not leave room for alternate interpretations of what you mean.
“Perpetrators of all kinds are good at using interpretation to cover their tracks. They will claim to not have understood what you meant or that their actions were not intended as you received,” says Cineas.
Alternative phrase: “I am not interested in…” or “I do not want…”
This is making me feel uncomfortable.
While some experts believe that telling the harasser your feelings is not the way to go, this phrase has gotten me out of many a sticky situation. In my experience, many people are not even aware that what they are doing is having an impact on others. Letting them know in a straightforward way is often enough to stop the behavior.
Alternative phrase: “I feel uncomfortable with this conversation, what you’re doing, how you’re talking to me.”
While curbing harassment is a problem that needs to be addressed at a larger societal level, in company policy, and more, as individuals, we all (men and women) need to learn how to stand up for ourselves when faced with situations that make us feel uncomfortable.
In short, we need to learn to just say no.
This article originally appeared on Inc.com.
Thanksgiving and Christmas may be just around the corner, but there are dozens of other holidays that take place in November and December that you may never have heard of.
Chase’s Calendar of Events helps businesses host those special days, weeks and months that have been created to celebrate everything from living a gluten free lifestyle to family reunions to National Hot Dog Day.
Whether philosophical or playful, your business can create its own holiday as a launching pad for a newsworthy brand-building campaign. Remember though and industry leaders don’t just report or comment on the news, and other people’s content – they create it.
Generating a holiday that ties in with your business, book, product or cause is one way to gain attention for your brand. For example: I had a client who was an expert in business etiquette.
She created Cell Phone Courtesy month and like magic, every year she gets a whole 30 days to promote her message (and her company).
She sends out press releases on the topic, gives radio interviews and has even appeared on television – all to promote, celebrate and give great tips on, you guessed it – cell phone courtesy.
Here are the three steps you can take to make your own brand building holiday.
1. Create a holiday event that relates to your business, book or product.
National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, Get Organized Month, National Hot Dog Day: If you can think of a topic, there is probably a holiday someone has created to celebrate it.
And many have used these events as a springboard for promoting their message to the media. Some of the events my clients have created and placed in Chase’s have garnered them coverage in USA Today, CNET, The Huffington Post and hundreds of other newspapers, radio shows and blogs. To create your own holiday, think about the following:
- What topic relates to our business, book, product or cause that we could create a credible holiday around?
- Is there a specific date, month or time of year when it would be most natural for our holiday to occur?
- What can we name this holiday to easily showcase the thing we want to celebrate and promote?
2. Submit your holiday idea to Chase’s Calendar of Events.
In order to be officially included in Chase’s yearly book and Web site, you need to apply to have your event accepted. It’s free to submit, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Check the current Chase’s calendar to insure that the holiday you want to create has not already been claimed by someone else.
- Create a Web site for the holiday or put a page on your existing Web site dedicated to it.
- Mind the deadlines for submission. Chase’s works in advance, so be certain that you submit your holiday or event early.
3. Build buzz for your holiday event.
About 30 to 45 days before your holiday is due to debut, write and distribute a press release about the upcoming event. Include some background on why you decided to sponsor the holiday and how it is relevant in today’s world.
If the topic permits, offer five to ten tips that the media can easily pick up and integrate into a feature story or news item.
The beauty of creating your own holiday is that while it only takes one time to set it up, once established, it gives you a yearly platform to promote.
This article originally appeared on Inc.com.
We live in a world filled with options. For example, “Would you like that latte decaf or regular? Low-fat, nonfat, soy, almond, regular milk or half-and-half?” However, where packing for a business trip is concerned, the fewer choices you have, the happier you will be.
Given today’s TSA screening, limited overhead space and propensity of airlines to taxi back to the runway canceling a flight, carrying light has become an essential survival skill. According to many of the stylists (and travel experts) I spoke to, the average business traveler packs approximately twice the amount of clothing they need for a business trip.
I’ve traveled to more than 50 countries, and most of the time I can do up to a two-week trip with one roll-aboard carry-on. How?
I learned a long time ago to borrow a lesson from Hollywood and use storyboard packing. In the movie business, storyboarding refers to creating a visual map of the story. I use a similar process to do the same thing with my business clothes before I board a plane.
Try these four steps, and your next business trip will be both lighter in suitcase and more substantial in style.
1. Pick your color palette.
One of the best ways to travel light is to limit your color choices. By choosing basic neutral colors–black, navy, tan and gray–you can combine various pieces for more choices. Stylist Brenda Kinsel, author of Brenda Kinsel’s Fashion Makeover, suggests adding a hint of color with a tie, scarf, sweater or accessory to create some visual interest and flair.
For men, try packing a dark suit and a second pair of trousers in a lighter shade, allowing you to transition from a formal business meeting to a relaxed dinner with minimal wardrobe changes. As for wearing jeans at business off-sites, just make sure they are business-level jeans–dark and well fitting. “Unless you are managing a rock-and-roll band, no low-rise, embroidered or sequined jeans,” says Kinsel.
Don’t forget to consider the season and climate of the destination you will be traveling to–lighter materials and brighter colors for warm climates, denser materials and darker colors for cold climates.
2. Mix and match.
Next, start putting together outfits by trying on the clothes you have chosen and the accessories (belts, shoes, ties, jewelry, scarves, etc.) that might work with them. While many women are used to planning outfits, it’s just as essential for men to think about what they are going to wear on a business trip. Taking the time to look put together and successful gives the impression of being trustworthy and competent.
3. Create your storyboards.
Once you have determined what clothes are needed for all the different business events you will be attending for an upcoming trip, write them down. Each page should include all the pieces in the outfit, all the accessories and how the item will be used; for example, business-casual daytime, business-dinner evening, team playtime. Take the sheets with you for quick reference.
4. Keep your clothes looking crisp.
To achieve wrinkle-free clothes upon arrival, try putting your jacket in a dry-cleaning bag:Lay your jacket (buttoned up) out on a bed or flat surface. Next, fold the arms back and place the entire garment inside a dry-cleaning bag without the hanger. The plastic acts as a buffer while the jacket shifts around in transit and prevents that awkward crease down the front.
To further prevent wrinkles, avoid putting garments directly onto the shoes and toiletries at the bottom of your suitcase. Instead, use a packing board as a barrier. This creates a flat surface clothes can rest on.
In this day and age of high-security screening, lost luggage and delayed flights, traveling is no easy task. If you practice storyboard packing, at least you can negotiate these challenges while flying lightly and looking your business best. Just don’t forget to pack your most important accessory–your sense of humor.
This article originally appeared on Inc.com.
Several years ago, I completed an international survey of over 20,000 business owners and leaders around the world. Many of the entrepreneurs I interviewed were millionaires, mostly due to their smart ideas, hard work — and time management habits. Yes, you heard me right. These moguls were so successful in part because they knew how to be not only effective, but efficient as well. Here are the three time-management habits most of those millionairesmall business owners had in common.
Habit #1: Focus on the trees, not the forest.
In the computer world, there is a term called “chunking down,” which essentially means breaking things from the large whole down to its smaller parts. Most of the super-successful entrepreneurs I interviewed were in the habit of chunking their bigger projects and goals down into tinier pieces. This helped them to take action more quickly and easily, while at the same time combating a feeling of overwhelm.
Ask yourself. What is a large project or to-do I am currently struggling with getting done? How can I break it down into a series of smaller, more manageable chunk sizes?
Habit #2: Take energetic credit for completion.
Most of us wait until the very last step of a big goal or task is completed before experiencing any sense of completion, satisfaction, or accomplishment. Not so for the super-successful businesspeople I interviewed.
Instead, these millionaires were in the habit of enthusiastically taking energetic credit for any action they completed, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. There was no waiting for the big bang at the end where 100 percent of the work was done before experiencing closure; rather, they generated energy all along the way by fully recognizing (and celebrating) each item they completed.
Ask yourself. What progress have you made on a larger project or to-do that you have not given yourself full credit for?
Habit #3: Commit to calendaring and time-planning.
The super successful are in the habit of using a time-plan to get beyond procrastination. Simply put, a time-plan is a method of assigning blocks of time to those items you want to get done. To harvest the power of planning and create a working time-plan, many of the millionaires I interviewed followed these easy steps:
Identify your power times. Everyone has high and low periods of energy, attention, and focus. By knowing and understanding your own energy patterns, you can create a time-plan that takes advantage of your personal rhythms.
Set aside blocks of time for getting things done. Keeping in mind your power times, go through your calendar and schedule a specific day and period when you will work on an item. The time periods most of the millionaires used ranged from 15 to 45 minutes. Oh, and every few hours, many scheduled a ten-minute break to give their brains a chance to process any information and return to the to-do’s refreshed.
Lastly, don’t just plan your time in your head — write it down. Whether you use a PDA, a calendar contact program, or a plain old date book, keeping a written record of your time-plan is key.
Ask yourself. What to-do’s am I holding in my head, that I should be scheduling a time window to work on?
If all these sound too simple to be true, consider this. Most of us know what we need to do, and even how to do it. What’s often missing are the habits or the discipline to achieve it in the most effective way. Just think, you may only be a few small time-management habits away from being a millionaire.
This article originally appeared on Inc.com.