There are no quick fixes or shortcuts to becoming successful; no such thing as ‘get rich quick’ or overnight successes.
Achieving success and establishing a flourishing business comes through a series of goals and steps by which to achieve them. The path to a strong career and business is filled with personal and professional choices, and many of them are simple: you don’t need an MBA to master them.
- Arrive early. Your mother probably told you this, and mom is rarely wrong. You cannot ever err by showing up to work – be it a regular office day or a special appointment – early. Being a few minutes early gives you time to settle in, to get a cup of coffee, review your calendar, and give the impression to others that you have impeccable time management skills.
- ‘No meetings’ days. Meetings are necessary, but boy, they can sure prevent other substantive work from getting done. So, make one day each week a ‘no-meeting day. This may not be the same day every week, as you’ll likely have to schedule it around other commitments, but stand your ground when co-workers want to encroach on your day. You may be surprised at how many items you can cross off your to-do list when your day is unmarked by meetings or conference calls.
- Prepare agendas for meetings. This should be one of those ‘no-brainer’ items, but we’ve all been to meetings with no agenda. They aren’t productive and tend to lead to ‘scope creep’, the process in which meeting attendees feel emboldened to talk about all sorts of topics not germane to the meeting. Best practice is to send the agenda in advance, so all attendees know what to expect. Many experts suggest the use of a virtual ‘parking lot’ for items that are off topic: when non-agenda items are raised, place them there for later discussion so you can accomplish the business at hand in a timely manner.
- Limit e-mail. E-mail is a useful tool, as long as we treat it as that: a tool, and not a time suck. Unsubscribe from every email list you don’t need: it will keep you from archiving or deleting their messages daily. Limit the number of times each day your check your email to first thing in the morning, mid-day, and afternoon, for it’s mighty hard to focus on tasks when you are checking each message as it arrives.
- Front load your mornings. Even if you may think you aren’t a morning person, study after study recommends tackling the most important tasks of your day first thing. Both your mind and body will be fresh to take on tough chores. Some refer to this as ‘eating the frog,’ based on the Mark Twain saying, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.
Finally, one of the most important suggestions for improving your business is the most difficult for many of us: ask for help. Don’t wait until you are in trouble to put your ego aside. Develop a solid group of colleagues and mentors who’ve been in your shoes and can offer your advice when you get in a jam.