Entrepreneurial success stories are built on the pillar of effectiveness. Because effectiveness is what translates efforts into results.
“Far too seldom, we give ourselves the margin necessary for flexibility, growth, and rest.”
— Jonathan Cutrell
As a working professional, your attention is your most prized possession as well as your most in demand asset. The need to produce the highest quality work in the minimum amount of time calls for efficiency at work, round the clock!
Fortunately, there are ever increasing productivity tools and resources that help us save time by optimizing our work. But what about our mental productivity.
Our mindset can be a powerful tool to help us enhance our work-life situations and win. With that in mind, we asked business owners what works for them.
Adopting and practicing a personal productivity mantra helps us imbibe these qualities and nail that elusive work-life efficiency. Consider these 12 work mantras or create your own.
Mantra #1: I will Mindfully Monotask
“I was trying to daydream but my mind kept wandering.” This powerful statement by comedian Steven Wright just about sums up entrepreneurial multitasking where we answer emails while answering the phone, with dinner in the oven, and one foot on the yoga mat. Especially now, when more of us are remote, working from home productivity is the need of the hour.
Consultant and Coach Lisa Sansom of LVS Consulting says, “As a solopreneur, coach, consultant, writer and parent, my best tip is to mono-task – do one thing at a time. And make dedicated time to do that thing. If it’s yoga time, just do yoga. If it’s email time, just do email. If it’s employee meeting time, just do the meeting.”
“Wherever you are, just be there – stop multitasking because our brain is not wired that way. Our brain is designed to focus on one conscious activity at a time – just do that, and take breaks in between. Track your attention and energy patterns and work within them, rather than trying to do everything all the time.
“Successful multitasking is a myth we all have pursued that ends up hurting us in the long run,” adds Founder, Ricky Marton of Be Robin Hood. “Workouts are time for working out, not socializing. Meals are times to reflect, read a little, or talk with family and friends.”
Mantra #2: I will Meet with Myself
“In attempts to efficiently manage my compliance program, I’ve divided the yearly and quarterly tasks into a weekly to-do list” says CEO Jenna Biancavilla of Pearl Capital Management. She has a great productivity tip. “Every Tuesday, I have a standing calendar invite with myself to tackle that week’s item. I treat it like an actual meeting, I am not available to meet with anyone, talk with anyone or answer emails during that hour. Now, some weeks there will be fires that need to be put out, and I have moved my ‘meeting with myself’ to the end of the day to accommodate, but I will not quit working on Tuesdays until I have completed the task.”
An open door policy is fine with Chief Thinking Officer Jonathan Denn of Drum Beat Productivity — as long as the door is open!
“We now know from neuroscience that we only get about 3 hours of quality thinking time a day. It best happens in two 90 minute sessions. It’s best to work completely uninterrupted by notification, phone calls, checking email, and people knocking on your door. Let your team (or family) know that if the door is closed it will reopen soon. Encourage them to make a decision for themselves. You can review their decisions with them later if necessary. Of course, if someone is burning or bleeding, knock!
It is okay to have a thinking partner in your 90 minute Solo thinking sessions but only one. Anymore than that and you have yourself a meeting.”
Mantra #3: I’ll Let it be
Founder and CEO Ilene Marcus of Aligned Workplace shares, “Not all doors are meant to open to you or your company. Don’t spend time courting clients, systems, workers that will never get you what you need or aren’t really ready for your services. Just part ways. No hard feelings. It saves so much time in the long run.”
Business owner Patrick Van Tyle of Forklift Coach advocates saying no. “One mistake those new to business make is saying yes to everyone & to everything out of fear of missing. Missing out. Missing opportunity, or fear if they say no, they’ll lose business. By saying yes to everything they spread themselves thin, burnout and most go out of business eventually. Focus on what your best at. You can always, as I do, refer business I don’t want to those that want it. This has freed up so much time for me and unloaded stress of trying to be everyone’s everything.”
CEO, Brian Lim of Into the am believes in the importance of having a “Do Not Do” list. “Make sure your ideas align with your mission statement, and if they don’t, move on.”
Mantra #4: Me first, then work
Principal, consultant Sarkis Hakopdjanian of The Business Clinic has a great tip. “The best way for me to have the energy, focus and drive to realize my goals is to take care of my holistic health. I start every morning with exercise, yoga and meditation. This helps take care of my physical and mental health. Then I make a super-shake that is full of all of the vitamins and minerals my body and mind needs to be effective.”
Entrepreneur, founder Lori Cheek of Cheekd has two work from home productivity hacks that help her kick off the day’s creativity and productivity. “As soon as I wake up, I start the coffee maker then I roll out my yoga mat and do 30 pushups, 100 sit-ups and 3 rounds of one minute planks followed by a quick stretch. It takes less than 20 minutes and not only does it get my heart pumping and immediately wake me up, it gives me a calm start to the day! Then I grab my coffee, crack open my laptop and begin my day already 200 calories lighter!
Then…. when I sit down to my desk, I organize my workspace. Having a clean workspace helps me focus and feel structured. After I organize everything, I settle in with a cup of coffee and try to relax for 15 minutes before diving into the grind. Then, I prioritize my day’s to-do list and map out the rest of my day!
Kathy McCabe, Life Coach suggests taking at least 15 minutes of quiet time for yourself each day. “Quiet your mind through meditation or journaling. Once you have done that, identify your top 3 to 5 priorities for the day and week. Write them down. Set a reminder on your phone to prompt you to finish each task/priority that day. This daily practice helps me focus on what is most important to accomplish and to let go of what isn’t.”
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Mantra #5: I’ll do one thing for peace of mind
For most of us, if we tackle that one thing outside of work that’s weighing on our mind, it automatically removes the efficiency speedbumps in our day.
Mompreneur Leslie Fischer of Sustainable Slumber has a fantastic suggestion.
“Every person should identify what it is that makes them feel like things are taken care of on the home front and make sure those are done. As a mom, I wear many hats and even though my husband is helpful, it seems many domestic tasks fall on me since I work from home.
My personal productivity is excellent when I have the feeling that *the most important domestic tasks* are taken care of. This will look different for every person! For me, having a fridge with enough food and having enough clean laundry for the kids are my biggest priorities. I can live with the dust and the crumbs, but if the laundry isn’t managed and there is nothing in the fridge for dinner, I am distracted and cannot do deep work–where I am in the zone and producing my best work.”
Mantra #6: In the journal. I’m at ease.
“The best possible thing I did for myself was start writing a journal,” says Marketing Manager of Maple Holistics Nate Masterson. “If self-development is something you desire, put your trust in your own written words. Starting a journal will help you build your personal philosophy, to identify patterns of behavior, to recognize underlying practices and hint at their origin, and it will also help to incept you with intuitive solutions, meanings, and a much better understanding of your shortcomings.”
Web designer Liz Theresa recommends writing in the form of a time audit- logging your activities throughout the day along with time-stamps for how long each activity took.
“The goal is to never have a minute go unrecorded.
*For example – between 9:30am and 9:48am, I answered emails today.”
Logging this stuff may appear counterintuitive because you’re taking time to write down what you’re doing. In reality, though, writing down the activities we perform is actually a form of mindfulness. We become way more aware of how we’re spending our time. Only when we’re aware of this, can we become accountable to ourselves in following through on our to do list!”
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Mantra #7: See you at the top
Kimberly Rath, Co-Founder and Chairman of Talent Plus shares her productivity tip. “Start & end every day with top performers. This gives me momentum to ‘tap dance’ to work daily – largely because I make my first interaction with someone hitting it out of the park – a big project, a client or new solution. As I make my way out of the office, I do the same thing — conversations with one at the top of their game leading a team, etc.”
Mantra #8: I can do with a pause
Robert Ellis, CEO of Massage Tables Now suggests taking short breaks throughout the day. There are so many online distractions that it’s easy to be pulled in multiple directions and lose track of time. I find that breaks are can help boost productivity, as long as they are planned. A short 5-10 minute break can help you reset and refocus. The key is to be disciplined about when you take breaks and for how long. You don’t want a short 10 minute break to turn into a lost hour.”
Walking, playing with your dog, coffee break with a colleague, meditating, napping, or simply deep breathing are some simple, quick ways to pause and clear your mind.
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Mantra #9: Calm is a superpower
“In the past, I would worry over the all the tasks that was on my to-do list, which I later realized was overwhelming and unnecessary,” says Mylène Besançon CMO of Tunedly. Nowadays, no matter how many tasks I have on my plate, I try to keep in mind that no amount of thought will make it any shorter.
I have learned to immerse myself in the moment and stop obsessing over things that don’t go my way. This is one of the lessons I’ve learned that I would probably say to my younger self: focus on what I know, and the things I need to be doing daily in order to be successful, instead of on the little bumps in the road.”
Mantra #10: Let music feed your mind
“Taking a break during the day and playing piano has also helped my get my focus back, and gets my creative juices flowing again,” says Co-Founder of Your Green Pal, Gene Caballero. “Playing any instrument has been scientifically proven to engage practically every area of the brain at once especially the visual, auditory, and motor cortices. It gets my mental capacity going again and helps me through my afternoon. Its like a mental full body workout, and lets me refocus on what I need to do.”
We even have a little music room in our office so any employee can do the same.
Kindle your creativity and enthusiasm by listening to or playing music. Who knows, the key to your efficiency might just be buried in your playlist.
Meet the day head on, with novel ideas & a fresh perspective. 20 Sparks to Creatively Rethink Skills and Career!
Mantra #11: I’ll Start with Happy
Entrepreneur Rachel Kenyon of Happy QuickBooks Girl is a big believer of routine habits, and shares an awesome productivity tip!
“It doesn’t matter what time you get up. It matters how you get up. Start your day on the right foot. That will look different for everyone. Dedicate yourself to a morning plan that prepares you for a high-energy, clear minded, positive attitude day. For some that is morning exercise. For others, time with a cup of morning java and a good old newspaper. Your morning routine should include things that put you in a good mood. Start with a happy you and you will be more productive all day long.”
Mantra #12: What you see is what you do
Growth Marketing Manager Syed Irfan Ajmal’s favorite hack is using a whiteboard and a POMODORO app in combination. I write down the top 3-5 tasks that I must do on a whiteboard. I put the tasks in the right order and mention the time each will take to complete. Using my Tomato One POMODORO app I start working in sprints of 25 minutes. After each sprint, I close my laptop, stretch my body, walk for about 100-150 steps, and check the task that I completed in that sprint (with a green marker). Then I restart my computer after my 3 minutes break and start doing the next sprint.”
Helena Escalante of Entregurus also recommends the Pomodoro technique, but she adds, “Alternatively, if I’m on a roll, I set up another chunk of time and take a slightly longer break at the end of those two back-to-back intervals. Works wonders!”
Working from home brings about its own set of productivity challenges. Whether it’s through effective habits, mindset or affirmations, one thing is certain – we will never have this day again. Chant these efficiency mantras and make every day count.
You can’t use up creativity. The more you create, the more you have.
A Designer and Entrepreneur, Aditi graduated from a top design school and subsequently started her own design and merchandising business. Co-founder at Maroon Oak, she has over 17 years of business experience with Two Dotts, her design consulting company and an Etsy store which serves as an outlet for her gifts and patented product designs.
A mother to a teen and a tween, she enjoys running, dancing and raising her newest baby, a Bichon named Miltie.