5 Strategies To Instantly Improve Your People Skills

I’ve heard it said that 85% of our success in life comes from our people skills.

Closeup portrait of a group of business people laughing
The way we interact with others in our personal and professional life can make or break a situation.

John Maxwell said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

The good news is everyone can learn to improve their people skills.

Good people skills start with the right heart.  A heart that genuinely cares about others.  This works in business, personal relationships, job interviews and casual conversations.

Here are 5 Strategies To Instantly Improve Your People Skills:

1) Be a Good Listener.  We’ve all heard the adage, “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.”  People love to be heard.  One of the greatest gifts we can give to others is to listen to them.  It’s normal to mistake listening for waiting…waiting for your turn to talk.  Fight the urge and genuinely listen.  Listening shows others we value them and are ready to serve them.

2) Smile.  The was a popular song recently that was called, “What Does the Fox Say?”  A great question to ask is, “What does my face say?”  If we are not careful, we may be sending off a mixed message and not even know it.  Especially for more intense individuals, our face may be communicating a scowl when we are really just thinking about solving a problem.  Be aware that your body language can communicate even more than your words.  If you want to instantly connect with someone, smile more.  Even a slight smile tells others you are approachable and sends a positive message.  Positivity trumps negativity every time.

3) Give a Sincere Compliment.  Positive comments are a bridge to connecting with others.  Everybody loves to be noticed.  Look for ways to connect with others through a sincere compliment.

4) Talk About The Other Person’s Interests. Everyone loves to talk about themselves and what they like.  Talking about the other person’s interests is the fastest way to building a connection.  Look for common interests as that engages you in the conversation and builds an even stronger connection.

5) Follow Up.  Look for ways to continue to build a great relationship by following up.  Bring up the last conversation you had and ask them how they are doing.  I have a business friend that would actually write notes from our conversations.  He would refer to them the next time we talked about restocking his product.  Even though he was in sales, it made me know he cared about more than the sale and that made a big impact on me.

Relationships will always be at the core of who we are and what we do. 

Put these 5 strategies to work and I guarantee you will improve your people skills.

Which of these strategies do you feel is the most effective in connecting with others?

21 Tips to Get Organized and Increase Productivity Now- Part 3

I hope this 3 part series has been helpful and given you some tips to get organized and increase your productivity.

As we said in the previous post, time is the only non-renewable resource we have.  And because you are reading this, that puts you in the top percentage of people that succeed in life.  You want to make the most of the time you are given.
Better work flow: get organized

 

As we bring this 3 part series to a close, here are the final seven tips of 21 Tips to Get Organized and Increase Productivity Now.

15) Delegate. Delegate.  Delegate.

How many times have you heard people say, “It’s just easier to do it myself”?  Maybe you’ve even said those words.  While that statement may be true at times, experts tell us we can go further, faster over the long haul if we hand off things that are not in our strength zone.  In fact, I recently heard the leader of a large organization recommend delegating anything to someone else they can do at least 60% as well as you.  If we can delegate the things we aren’t great at, things that zap energy from us and in turn focus on the things we do best, our productivity will go out the roof.

16) Take regular breaks.

My wife often says, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”  It also makes Jack a tired boy.  Our bodies were not meant to run 24/7 without breaks.  Working this way is actually counterproductive and hurts us and the relationships with those around us in the long haul.  Try practicing the 5/30/1 system.   Take a 5 minute break during every hour you work throughout the day, at least a 30 minute lunch break (where you don’t do work) and at least one day off per week where your brain can disconnect from work and recharge with things that are life giving.  Those consistent breaks along with healthy sleep patterns will give you more energy and increase productivity.

17) Break larger projects into smaller tasks.

Many times larger projects can be overwhelming.  Just the thought of starting them is overwhelming because we don’t know where to begin.  One helpful tip is to “begin with the end in mind”.  In other words, picture the ideal outcome for the project.   Once you have that, you can reverse engineer the process by making a list of everything that has to be done to accomplish that desired outcome.  Make a list of even the smallest tasks and details.  From there, prioritize the tasks in the order of importance and sequence.  Delegate the tasks others can do and begin to schedule and accomplish the ones you can do.  By cutting everything into bite size pieces and pacing your progress, a large project suddenly becomes much more manageable and less stressful.  It brings clarity, focus and simplicity to the process and ultimately increases productivity. Bottom line:  how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  O.K., we can pass on the elephant.

18) Focus on tasks that achieve the biggest results.

One of the challenges that busy leaders have is confusing busyness with effectiveness.  How many times have you asked the question, “How have you been?” To which you receive the answer, “Busy”?  Busyness does not equal productivity.  As leaders, we have to get the right things done, not just many things done.  Before you begin your day, make a list of all the things that need to get done in order to move the ball down the field.  Out of those items, ask yourself, “What one to three tasks would bring the most results if I accomplished them?”  Prioritize those in order of importance and key results and get to work.  Delegate or delay the other tasks and watch your productivity skyrocket.

19) Reward yourself for results.

Leaders love accomplishment.  Too many times we don’t slow down long enough to celebrate and enjoy the win. Try giving yourself small incentives for finishing smaller tasks and larger incentives for finishing larger projects.  It’s the carrot principle.  In fact, if you are competitive, (which most of us are) play “Beat the Clock”.  In other words, tell yourself, “If I complete this task by a certain time, I will reward myself with _______. (Pick a reward relative to the task.)  Not only will you have the satisfaction of your accomplishment, but you will also enjoy a reward a much deserved break along the way.

20) Practice pre-vacation mode.

If you’re like most people, the day before a vacation you get a ton of stuff done.  Why?  Because you know you have to.  You want to be able to leave the office without the weight of things falling through the cracks while you are gone.  So you pick up the pace and get the most important things done before you leave.  What if you applied that strategy to your workday on a regular basis?  How would that increase your productivity?

21) Limit time in meetings.

Unnecessary and/or inefficient meetings can be huge time bandits.   Sometimes they are unavoidable.  However, if it’s up to you, look for ways to limit your time in meetings.  Meetings should not be used for conveying information that can be communicated in an email, text or phone call.  The exception to that rule is if a sensitive subject is being discussed.  Things that could potentially be misinterpreted in written form should always be done verbally so all parties can hear the tone involved.  Tone does not come over well in writing.  That being said, the most effective meetings have a set agenda, start time and end time.  Valuable information is sent before the meeting to all participants so the meeting can be used for the sole purpose of doing what the group can only do together; things such as brainstorming and decision making.  After the meeting, it is always productive to recap three things:  1) What was decided.  2) Who is going to do it. 3) When they are going to do it by.  Most meetings fail because they had no structure.  Add structure and guidelines to your meetings and you will experience a much more productive day.

I hope you enjoyed this blog series and that it added value to your life and organization.

When each of these 21 strategies are applied to your life, you will see your productivity unleashed.  You will have more time to do what matters most.

Work hard.  Work smart.  Be awesome. 

Which tip did you find the most helpful?

21 Tips to Get Organized and Increase Productivity Now- Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of a 3 part series on 21 Tips to Get Organized and Increase Productivity.

Better work flow: get organized

Yesterday we were reminded that we have one thing in common:  The amount of time given to us per day.  The difference between successful people and those not as successful often boils down to how that time is spent.

To view that post click this link: Increase Productivity Part 1

Today we are going to look at the next seven of the 21 Tips To Get Organized and Increase Productivity Now.

7) Clear the clutter.

A disorganized work space can greatly reduce your focus and productivity.  I tend to be very easily distracted and I work much better in a clutter free environment.  My office is very minimalistic.  I work from a small round table and only keep what I need on there.  Usually, this means my laptop, a legal pad and a pen.  It helps me to focus and I’m not distracted by the things around me that aren’t contributing to my work at hand.

8) Get up early or stay up late.  

Let’s face it.  Distractions kill productivity.  One way to limit distractions is to work when less is going on.  Most activity happens between 9am and 5pm.  I recently adjusted my schedule to get up before 6am so I can be at the office before anyone gets there.  I also am able to leave earlier as well.  This early morning routine allows me to be much more productive.  Late night routines can work equally as well.

9) Leverage your most creative time. 

We all have periods of time during the day or night that we are most creative and alert.  For me that is usually early morning.  Work on your most creative tasks when you are most alert.  Save the mundane tasks like answering email or returning phone calls for when energy levels may not be as high.  It will definitely increase your productivity and results.

10) Turn off the phone.

Unfortunately, we live in a time where everyone almost expects 24/7 access to us.  However, we create the system that allows access to us.  Unless you are in a career that dictates constant access, turn off the phone for blocks of time for the purpose of uninterrupted focus on projects or tasks.  Change your outgoing message to let callers know you will be unavailable between a certain time frame and that you will be returning calls after that time.  As a courtesy, give them a contact person in your organization to call in the case of something urgent.  Most things, however, can wait at least an hour or so while you focus on getting important things done.

11) Take a nap.

At first glance, this seems counterproductive, but in reality it is one of the most productive things we can do.  Sleep experts tell us that a short 20 minute nap can renew our energy and clear the mind.  This sets us up for sustained productivity throughout the workday.  Presidents, world leaders and famous historical figures such as John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Thomas Edison knew the power of the nap and used it regularly to increase their effectiveness.

12) Work in blocks of time. 

One of the most productive things you can do is give yourself enough time to work on certain tasks or projects and take regular breaks.  For example, use your phone as a timer to work in increments of 55 minutes with a 5-10 minute break.  The timer will help you stay focused and the breaks will help you sustain concentration.

13) Get proper rest.

Sleep experts tell us most people need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  Anything less for a sustained amount of time decreases our creativity, alertness and ultimately our productivity.   Try cutting back on T.V. to recapture time you could be using to get more sleep.

14) Adopt a healthier lifestyle. 

Energy management plays a big part in productivity.  And a healthy lifestyle plays a big part in energy management.  Sugar and a diet high in carbohydrates, saturated fats and fast food contribute to energy crashes during the day, which decrease productivity.  Eat a healthier diet that consists of more fruits and vegetables and low fat proteins along with drinking plenty of water.  You will set yourself up for better sustained energy levels.  If you really want to kick things up a notch, exercise at least 3 times a week.  Increased exercise (at least 20 minutes that gets your heart rate up) will also increase your productivity.

Don’t forget to stop by tomorrow for the third and final post in this series.

Which one of these tips can you put into practice today?

21 Tips to Get Organized and Increase Productivity Now

If you’re like most of us, you often feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything you want to do. 

books stacked

The older you get, the faster time seems to go.

The reality is all of us have one thing in common:  The amount of time given to us per day.  The difference between successful people and those not as successful often boils down to how that time is spent.

Time is a nonrenewable resource.  We can’t “save up” time like we can money or some other resource.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” — Jim Rohn

We can however, spend it wisely and make the most of our time.  The goal is to create blocks of time to do the things that really matter to us.  Things that make a difference and bring success, happiness and fulfillment to our lives.

Note: This is part 1 of a 3 post series.

Here are the first seven of the 21 Tips to Get Organized and Increase Productivity Now.

1) Plan your day in advance. 

I have found this to be the greatest time tactic of all.  I use a very simple system that works for me.  You can use a digital platform, but I currently use a legal pad.  I write down everything I need to do in advance and work off that list.  Often times, I plan an entire week in advance, which works even better.  I go down the list and cross off the things that I accomplish.  Once I finish something, I move on to the next most important thing.  Crossing or checking something off gives you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue.  The list keeps you focused on doing the right things.  If by the end of the day, you haven’t accomplished everything, you simply move the tasks to the next day.  It’s a great feeling to know you got the right things done.

2) Use the batching technique. 

This is another great time tactic to maximize your time.  Batching is a technique where you do all the same type of activities together.  For example, when possible save up your phone calls and make them together.  If you have to do errands, do them in one trip.  Return emails at certain times during the day.  Some experts recommend mid morning and before you leave, depending on your job.  Batching things together can bring a lot of momentum and get the activity done quicker.

3) Don’t multi-task. 

This goes against our common sense, but studies have shown productivity actually goes significantly down when we focus on doing more than one thing at a time.  I heard one expert say that it takes up to 18 minutes to transition when we stop and start an activity over again.  Focus and finish a task and then move on to the next thing and you will be much more productive.

4) Prep the evening before.  

Deciding and doing what you can the night before can be a big time booster.  My mom is a master at this.  She is one of the most organized people I know.  She makes her lunch, decides what she is going to wear and lays everything out she needs for the next day the night before.  Once you get up in the morning, you are ready for the day without spending time prepping and looking for things.   Another effective strategy is to plan your to-do list for the following day the night before.  Your brain will subconsciously begin to process what needs to be done.  This practice will bring much more efficiency and clarity to your day.

5) Practice the 80/20 rule. 

The 80/20 rule is the idea that 80% of our success is made up from 20% of our efforts.  This, of course, is not a scientific number, but generally  speaking, it’s true.  Spend 80% of your time doing the things that will bring you the greatest amount of success.  Do your best to minimize the time spent on the rest.

6) Reduce your time online and in front of the television. 

I love spending time online doing things like catching up with friends on Facebook and surfing the internet.  The problem is, I often spend too much time online and find myself wondering how the time passed so quickly.  I don’t recommend everyone completely eliminating these activities, but giving yourself a limit (budgeting your time) can greatly increase your productivity and still give you the break you desire.

7) Clear the clutter. 

A disorganized work space can greatly reduce your focus and productivity.  I tend to be very easily distracted and I work much better in a clutter free environment.  My office is very minimalistic.  I work from a small round table and only keep what I need on there.  Usually, this means my laptop, a legal pad and a pen.  It helps me to focus and I’m not distracted by the things around me that aren’t contributing to my work at hand.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for the next 7 Tips to Get Organized and Increase Your Productivity Now.

What is one tip you have found that helps you get organized or increases your productivity?

image credit for stacked books

14 Ways to Make 2014 Your Best Year Ever

As 2013 winds down to a close, it’s time to reflect on where you’ve been, what you’ve accomplished and where you want to be.

make 2014 your best year ever

For some, this was a great year. For others, it didn’t go exactly as they had hoped.

The great news is 2014 is a clean slate, ready to have your story written on it.

If you’re tired of existing in a “same ole, same ole” life and ready to jump into a life you are excited to wake up to every morning, then this post is for you.

Here are 14 ways to make 2014 your best year ever:

1) Dream big.

2) Write down your goals.

3) Evaluate your progress weekly.

4) Eat healthy.

5) Exercise regularly.

6) Laugh more.

7) Read more.

8) Serve others.

9) Get organized.

10) Budget your money and your time.

11) Stop a bad habit/ start a good habit.

12) Go to bed early and get up early.

13) Build better relationships.

14) Spend time with God.

These are not the only ways to make 2014 your best year ever, but putting these things into practice will dramatically increase your success in life.

Don’t overwhelm yourself before you start.

Pick one thing you need to implement most and start with that. Then begin to work on other things as needed.

Can you imagine what your life will be like next year at this time if you even put half of these into practice?

Picture yourself accomplishing these goals. Each one of these is well within your reach.

Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Go for it! Here’s to your best year ever!

Let’s get this party started.

What is one thing you want to accomplish in 2014? Leave your answer in the comment section below.

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One Secret to Winning in Life and Business.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who was telling me about a family member who had passed away. He didn’t have a formal funeral. Only a few family members gathered to remember him. Why? He didn’t really make a big impact on people with his life.

I’ve done plenty of memorial services in my life and I can say from experience, you can always tell the impact the person has made from the size of the crowd that gathers.

I believe that we all share three common desires.

1) The desire to be loved.

2) The desire to be happy.

3) The desire to do something that matters.

So what is the secret to seeing those desires fulfilled?

Give more than you take.

One important question you could ask about yourself or your business is, “Am I a giver or a taker?”.

We all can think of people and businesses that are takers.

It’s the person that is constantly expecting everyone to do something for them. They’re entitled and think they “deserve it”.

It’s the business that promises the world, takes your money and never lives up to the expectation they promised.

The problem is, nobody wants to be around that person or do business with them again. That person or business begins to isolate themselves from the very thing they were after to begin with.

In contrast, we can all think of a person or a business that are givers.

I know a married couple that are off the chart givers. They are constantly giving their time and resources to serve others.

They recently befriended a man who was previously homeless and have literally turned his life around. In fact, this man now has a great job, his own place and has 4 months of savings in the bank. Countless numbers of people would look at Bob and Barbara and tell of the impact they have made on their lives. Why? Because they gave more than they took.

Many of us would point to Chick Fil A as a company that gives more than they take. Even though it is a quick service restaurant, it almost has a cult following. The service is amazing (who hasn’t heard their famous, “It’s my pleasure” in the drive through window?), and they consistently give to the community. Their profits have skyrocketed. And they do all of this in spite of being closed on Sunday to give their employees a day off to be with their families and go to church.

So, if you want to win in life and business, give more than you take.

Because givers always win.

Who is one person or business you feel exemplifies the “give more than you take” principle?

10 Tips For a Better Morning Routine

I never thought I could be a morning person.

sunrise

I always told myself I was most productive at night and that people who woke up early were either old or crazy.

Until a year or so ago. 

Although I certainly did do great work at night, I finally came to grips with the fact that my kids’ school schedule and my work schedule was not going to change anytime soon.  The only thing that could change would have to be me.

The One Word Challenge- Are You In?

I must admit it.  I’m easily distracted.

With the amount of information we are bombarded with from media on a daily basis, it’s hard to stay focused.

Couple that with projects and tasks we juggle at work and home, emails, phone calls, texts and appointments, it’s no wonder so many of us find ourselves stressed out and missing out on what really matters most to us.

The urgent has a tendency to replace the important.

10 Things I’ve Learned From 20 Years of Marriage

10 Things About MarriageI love learning from other people.

My wife, Jacque and I celebrated 20 years of marriage this year and I thought I would share a few things we’ve learned over the last two decades from others.

These things have contributed to us not just existing in a relationship, but loving being with each other.

No matter where you are at in your journey, maybe these principles will inspire and help you like they have us.