14 simple ideas you might find useful today

Pay-off: 14 actionable ideas to help you get your job done faster during lockdown (or any time for that matter)
Investment: Seconds, if you pick what you need, and run!

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Chaotic times. And chaos breeds more chaos. So maybe this post can help you regain some order.

Rather than going deeper on one idea this month, I thought I’d go light on a mixed bag of 14 ideas that I thought you might benefit from right now. I’ve organised them in a sort of ‘problem/solution’ format. Hope some help.

To make progress amongst the chaos:

  1. If you know what you should be focusing on next but you’re struggling to make it happen because your world’s been scrambled, try thinking this:

“The next thing is to do the thing that’s stopping me from doing the next thing”.

Pick that off, roll your sleeves up and nail it. I’m not being funny, sometimes that just means tidying your desk.

  1. Current circumstances are probably a good time to stop underestimating what you can get done in 5 minutes. People commonly toss 5 minute opportunities away by thinking, “I’ve only got 5 minutes so it’s not worth starting, I’ll just make a cup of tea and do it later.”

One way to get something moving is to ask yourself how you’d get it done, or get it going, if you ONLY had 5 minutes. Force your efficiency using Parkinson’s Law (I’ve written more here on the easiest way to get more done in less time.).

Another way is to break a plan down into 5 minute sprints. It takes some thinking up front, but if you’re prepared to think beyond what comes naturally (stand tall if you are) you can organise a plan into 5 or 10 minute steps. If you do, you’ll notice you start getting drawn to those low effort “tasks”. And the job gets done. Usually faster than you ever thought it would take. More of my articles on productivity here.

  1. Most stuff out there doesn’t ‘work’. YOU have to make it work. It’s on you. If you WANT it to work, then figure out how to make it work. Don’t create a gap between yourself and “it” and then sit there pointing your finger and chanting “it doesn’t work!” If you do that, perhaps it’s YOU that’s not working as you should? There’s some ideas below on learning effectively, but one particular article I wrote which crosses both ideas on “how to make learning actually work” is this one, “How to join the top 10% of fast learners.”

To shrink some anxious thoughts:

  1. You can choose to be part of a problem or part of a solution to a problem. You can also choose to be a BIG part of the problem, or a BIG part of the solution. Up to you. Unfortunately, if you don’t choose purposefully, there’s a significant chance you’ll gravitate towards being part of the problem. Maybe a BIG part? (See my article here on ‘taking charge and doing the right thing“. At the very least, if you’re feeling anxious, you don’t have to contribute your own anxiety to other people, and add to the growing problem. You could contribute sensible ideas? So…choose?
  1. Consider stopping wishing things were different or hoping for things to ‘return’ and start finding ways to maximise your value to the right people in ways you can. Do what you can. Rather than repeatedly thinking about what you can’t. It’s more fun and a light comes back on again. Also, cut social media. Just cut it down tactically. Unless you can truly quantify the value it’s bringing your life (and I don’t mean ‘it’s serving my addiction well thanks!’) then just cut out all usage of it that’s controlling you. And put some spark back into your life. Drop kick it over a rainbow or something.

To maximise learning for yourself and your kids at home:

  1. If you’re having to homeschool (a word that sets you up for failure immediately) your kids, stop trying to teach them. Instead, set them projects or small interesting problems to solve that they directly benefit from. Instead of you being the puppeteer, how could you get them to be the puppeteer of something else? Might want to do that for your employees too? Stop trying to control them and instead help set them up to learn, discover, think, solve, create, reflect, communicate and earn rewarding feelings. They don’t want to learn? Chuck a new problem at them that frustrates them a little if they DON’T learn how to solve it. Once you’ve set them up well, you could get on with a similar list of actions as those in bold italics above yourself?
  1. Please remember that learning takes place in the learner’s mind. Right there. Irrespective of where that learner is physically located, how many people you’ve sat around them, how you personally learn best, what time of day it is, or what they’re wearing. And learners can get lots more out of what they learn if they switch these on.
  1. Now’s a good time to invest in yourself. (I’d say that any time). That means increasing your ability to adapt and maximise your chances when things change. That means learning to not trust or depend too much on the status quo.

And that means shaking up your self-image – how you see yourself. And starting to see yourself as someone who has the ability to let things go, see things as they are (not as you wish them to be) and maybe switching the journey you thought you were going on for another one.

Some towards the end of their careers might say to me now, “not me, Mark, I’m retiring soon!” You’ll need this ability to adapt more than anyone. I don’t wish to take the wind out of your sail, but I don’t know many people whose retirement went quite as they planned. You’ll still face problems. You’ll still be busy solving problems. I wonder what they’ll be for you?

The phrase “change before you have to” comes to mind. And the recent shake up is just a starter for you. The main meal and desert are yet to come. To be frank, most people aren’t taking this idea seriously enough. The tide will go out again (see below).

“It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked.”

Warren Buffet
  1. Everyone can learn faster. You start by not wasting time learning the wrong thing. You pick a better version of ‘life’ than your current version, decide who you’d need to be to make that version a reality, what you’d need to be able to do differently to be that person, and then what you’d need to learn to make maximum progress in that direction. Then you do a learning robbery (that article appears to just be about watching YouTube videos twice as fast, but scroll down to the ‘learning robbery’ bit.) Know what one thing you want to leave with, get in fast, get what you need, and get the hell out.

BTW, if you’re interested in identifying ‘the one thing’ that most needs your attention to improve your sales (or your sales team’s performance), I’ve created this tool here which you can download: The One Sales Thing.

To practice challenging yours or other people’s thinking:

  1. Just before the full lockdown I heard a lot of people say “I’m not staying at home, I’ve got to live my life!” I thought, “If you want to live (your life), you might want to consider staying at home?” We need to challenge our own thoughts if we want to come up with better ones. More here.
  1. Recently I’ve heard too many people say, “there’s just no substitute for face to face communication” over a screen or phone to me. (I just simply take a very long slow sip of my coffee…) See points 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 above. There are always substitutes. They might have different pros and cons and you might need to learn how to make them work, but they’re available to you. And your competitors.

One way to treat other people:

  1. I’ve come across a few situations in my life where people have been a little (or a lot) rude or unhelpful when perhaps a tiny effort on their part would have meant a lot……AND THEN we’ve unexpectedly come face to face again weeks or months later!

Awkward. For them. Intriguing for me. “How will they handle this?” I think.

Someone once wrote, “treat others as if you’re going to see them again.” Not a bad way to behave. File under: “Comes in handy later.”

How to sell over a screen

  1. Loads of new courses and articles on this from every man and his dog, but I genuinely think everyone’s making a fuss. Just do this:
    1. Forget about the screen and concentrate on interacting with the customer and creating trust
    2. Once you’ve done 1 well enough, use your technology as best you can (learn the features!) to help them think through how to best solve their business problem. Get back in touch with them if you get a better idea of how to use your technology after talking with them. Trust (and rapport) + helping them to solve their business problem go an awfully long way. Shame many (most?) sales people fail on both.

How to work from home (if your job can be done at home):

  1. Once set up, get your head down and do your work as best you can.

I’m seeing lengthy articles and e-courses everywhere on this topic. I realise there are challenges. But I think it’s easy to get caught up complaining about what you can’t do instead of exploring what you can. The accelerated path to doing this well? Get cracking on something and learn as you work. You’ll acquire better ways as you progress.

Any questions or clarification needed you can leave a comment below or just get in touch directly. If you want training, coaching, consulting or any help from me please get in touch and of course if you want to improve your sales, that’s this site, and again I have new e-courses coming and other options that might help.

Hope you manage to make the most of this next month between the chaos.

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