Business Hacksbusiness

Have you ever looked at a really common word and wondered if the spelling was right? I wrote the word ‘business’ the other day and got stumped. Most of us say ‘bizness’ phonetically. The ‘i’ looked peculiar to me. It kept looking like busi-ness or busy ness. Hmmmmm. 

How ironic that the word business looks like busyness. I think too many times work is filled with being ‘busy’ but I wonder if all that busy is really what we all should be doing. How much of your day is filled with being busy but not productive or efficient?

There are lots of things that keep us busy – meetings, email, texting, social media. Here are 6 tips for taking some of the busy out of your business life. 

Block Time – Set aside blocks of time to address your biggest priorities each day. Schedule them on your calendar and guard that time. Morning often works well leaving you with a great sense of accomplishment for the day. Imagine having a completely uninterrupted hour twice a day to work on your work? Close your door, let people know you’ll be available later, forward your calls and turn off your email. People may even find their own answers or work things out themselves. 

Manage Email Rather Than Letting it Manage You – Speaking of email, email and texting can be all-consuming. Many of us can remember the 1998 romantic comedy movie, “You’ve Got Mail!” starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Just like Tom Hank’s love-hate relationship with Meg Ryan, most of us have, or at least used to have, a love-hate relationship with email. I think more and more it’s just the hate part. Who doesn’t have ‘too many’ emails to respond at any given time? And who isn’t repeatedly distracted from other more productive activities when emails and / or text messages appear? Lots of ideas on this one. First, consider turning off notifications for email and texts and again, block small chunks of time throughout the day to respond. Second, pay attention to whether you are the addressee or just cc’d. If you’re just cc’d, avoid any unnecessary temptation to join the conversation or respond. Only include people with a need to know on emails and only reply to those who need to know. Start using the cc field more regularly (rather than the ‘to’ filed) and train your team to do the same. Finally, specify whether you expect people to reply, reply all or not reply at all. 

Be Present – Put down your phone! Be present to your work, your colleagues, and your meetings. Increased focus will allow greater efficiency and productivity and less distraction and less of a sense of ‘busy.’

Meeting Management and Efficiency – Try 45-50 minute meetings vs. one-hour meetings or 20-25 minutes rather than a half-hour. Often meetings don’t start on time because people are rushing from one meeting to another. Take 10 or 15 minutes between meetings to respond to email, take a breather, answer questions, etc. My clients who have implemented this find they get just as much done in meetings and feel more efficient and have less work waiting for them at the end of the day. Also – keep your meeting to those who have a need to be there. Give others a choice to participate. You can even send follow up notes between meetings. 

Speak Live – When possible, pick up the phone or pop down to a person’s office to talk live and get something resolved without the constant inefficient back and forth of email or texting. You will find fewer misunderstandings requiring less rework, greater collaboration and alignment and more relationship and rapport with your colleagues.

Make it Fun – Walking meetings are a great way to combine a little bit of fitness with business. In addition, being outside can make us more creative in solving problems and leaves us feeling refreshed. 

And a bonus tip for home too…

Turn Busy into Quality Time! – Exercise or cook or do other things that need to be done with your spouse or your kids and make it quality time. Don’t just be ‘busy’ doing the task. Take time to learn, explore, be creative and enjoy one another. Play some music, laugh, connect, share. 

‘Busy’ can bog us down and make business burdensome. With greater efficiency and fewer distractions, get back to thriving rather than striving or worse yet, merely surviving! Get back to business!