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Management

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

Everyone in business knows that it is good advice to write a plan. Yet many of us don’t know where to start and quickly get too busy at the beginning of each new year to set aside the time to get anything useful committed to paper, let alone actually implemented.

whiteboard

whiteboardEveryone in business knows that it is good advice to write a plan. Yet many of us don’t know where to start and quickly get too busy at the beginning of each new year to set aside the time to get anything useful committed to paper, let alone actually implemented.

There are those of us who don’t plan at all, some who write plans and then file them to collect dust, and others who write a plan and then diligently get everything in order to get it implemented and measured. Have you met any of these people? They seem very few and far between.

In fact I met a business person once who repeatedly denied having a plan and then after an hour of talking pulled three plans off his shelf! None of them had been implemented and they had each cost him consulting fees to get them written. He had been too embarrassed to admit that he had done lots of planning but that the plans had just collected dust.

I must say though that this particular businessman is now very successful and writes himself a one page plan every year which he pins onto the wall next to his desk so that he focuses on the things that matter.

A good plan saves you time and money

Your plan does not need to be very technical, highly detailed, 92 pages long or even well formatted and presented. A simple hand written list of key decisions can make a huge difference to your personal and business life and performance.

Planning:

  • Helps you focus on the things that really make a difference
  • Helps you prioritise your activities
  • Helps you to predict change and then respond effectively to it
  • Manages your time and resources more efficiently
  • Provides direction and focus to your staff and your supporters
  • Prevents crises in your business
  • Means you spend less time fire fighting
  • Gets you ahead of the game and ahead of your competition

Having a good plan frees you up to work smarter; to concentrate on the things that really will make a difference rather than just being busy, to bring your people together and to achieve better performance and greater efficiency. It gives you much better control of what you are doing.

You know you have a good plan when it includes the key business decisions that you then refer to on a regular basis to manage your business. A good plan tells you what you will do and what you won’t do. It gives you boundaries and guidelines for managing and driving your business.

A good plan is also a flexible plan. We all know things change at lightening speed and staying still is a recipe for getting left behind. New opportunities come up all the time and you need to consider them seriously in light of your objectives for the year. You need to be responsive to change.

Charles Darwin was probably thinking of a plant or animal species when he said,

“It’s not the strongest who survive
Nor the most intelligent
But the ones most responsive to change”

But he could just as easily have been referring to businesses and the people who run them!

Your plan will change as your business and industry changes and grows. You will test different things, learn new things, find new technologies, meet new people and the market will change under your feet. So don’t worry if your decisions aren’t perfect at this point, they can always be reviewed and updated later.

Breathe a little life into your plan

Having a plan is one thing but it is completely useless and a waste of time if you do not put it into action. Statistics say 90% of strategy fails because of poor execution.

There seem to be several little things you can do to make it easier to put your plan into practice:

  1. Ask a trusted adviser to help you build your plan and to make you accountable for its implementation. Use your adviser as a sounding board and to help remove roadblocks along the way, but don’t give them the whole job.
  2. If you work with someone on your plan, make sure you do your share. Do the thinking yourself, do your own research and own the decisions you make. You need to OWN this plan, you need to know it, and you need to have complete buy in.
  3. Have a copy of your plan tucked away in your bag or on your Smartphone and add to it all the time. Scribble on it with notes of progress, make comments, add ideas etc. Keep it fresh and alive.
  4. Break it into achievable chunks, weekly goals, daily actions or whatever helps you to always be moving in the right direction.
  5. Review progress often and record progress on your plan.
  6. Share your plan with others – your staff, your family, your advisers – and be accountable to each other. Be mindful however that a good plan contains confidential information that would be very useful to your competitors. Keep it safe.
  7. Build it into your weekly/fortnightly team meetings and if you do not have regular team meetings in your company then make this one of the first things you commit to doing this year. If the response is “We are never all together,” then make it a rule that the team meeting goes ahead each week/ fortnight at a set time regardless of how many team members are available. Make it a priority
  8. Each week ask yourself and your team “What is the one thing you can do this week to drive this business toward our goals?”

The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today
– Elbert Hubbard

Regardless of the shape your business is in, now is the perfect time to get started on planning for the next twelve months.

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Management

4 Ways to Encourage Healthy Eating in the Workplace

food

A healthier workforce is a more engaged and productive one. A lot of people overlook the impact eating habits can have on cognitive functions, mood, and concentration. But by making a few adjustments to your workplace and company culture, you could help your employees make healthier food choices.

Here are a few simple ways you could encourage healthy eating in the workplace.

Use Snack Services

There are plenty of snack services out there that will allow you to provide snacks to your employees for cheap. They allow you to buy various snacks in bulk so you can save on total costs. They’re also a great way to show that you actually care about your employees’ wellbeing.

However, not all of them are created equal and some might be healthier than others. While an office snack service like Naturebox will be focused mainly on providing healthy office snacks like dried fruits, nuts, and low-calorie options, others won’t have as wide a selection and will offer your usual run-of-the-mill snacks with a few “healthy” options. If you want to know more about snack services and which one would be best for you, Bevi has a great article about them. Bevi also supplies beverages for the office, including water dispensers.

Incentivize your Employees

There are plenty of ways you could make things easier for your employees and incentivize healthy eating. Some companies, for instance, will have free fruit around the office or will allow their employees to have access to mineral water. If you have vending machines, make sure that you stock them up with healthy foods as well as the usual snacks. And make sure that healthy options are much cheaper as well.

Do not Neglect Break Time

You have to institute a culture in your business where your employees feel free to enjoy a full lunch break and sufficient screen break time as well. This will encourage healthy eating habits and reduce stress as well. Make sure that they don’t eat at their desk and consider giving flexible break hours so they can get out and stretch their legs. A lunch hour should be long enough to let them go out and enjoy a healthy meal if they want to. Enjoying fresh air will also leave them invigorated for the second half of the day.

Make Sure that it’s a Clear Part of your Company Culture

If you want your employees to truly dedicate themselves to healthy eating, it has to be part of your company’s mission and put down in writing. Make sure that your commitment to healthy eating and overall health is part of the staff handbook. You should also make it clear to your staff that your mission will translate into actual policy. Let them know that healthy eating options will be subsidized or completely free of charge. Also, make sure that you consider adopting a corporate food plan if you have a cafeteria.

Conclusion

Making sure that your employees adopt healthy eating habits is not only an investment in their well-being but in your business as well. If you want to enjoy a happier and healthier workforce that will run on all cylinders, make sure to make healthy eating a must in your workplace.

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Management

How to Make Money from Home as a Freelance Writer

self publish a book

If you have ever considered becoming a freelance writer your first and biggest question is probably “how do I begin making money as a freelance writer”? Knowing where and how to look for jobs is the first step in your freelance writing career.

There are plenty of ways to get paid but in this article, we give you 5 of the best methods for getting work as a beginner freelance writer.

Enter Writing Contests

Writing contests are a great option for freelance writers of any experience level because they do not differentiate between beginner writers and established professionals. Winning of these would be a great achievement for any resume and are sure to spruce up portfolios.

There are many competitions open to the public so do your research and see what opportunities are available to you. Prizes range from small cash payments to publications of your written works. Many of these competitions are free to enter so take the opportunity and submit your works today.

Job Boards

There are many ways for freelancers to make money online, you can find out more here. However, a common beginning point for freelance writers looking to get their first clients is to pitch for jobs on job boards. It is as simple as registering for an account and filling out applications or bidding on jobs. There are a ton of wiring jobs available on these boards and the clients are looking for people with a base level writing ability and a strong work ethic.

Start a Blog

Every writer needs a blog and these days bloggers are monetizing their blog through affiliate marketing. Running a blog can benefit you as a writer in many ways including contributing to your portfolio, creating lead generation, build up your credibility and give you confidence as a writer. Your blog will help you develop your style and target audience. The goal to successfully monetizing your blog is to pick a successful niche and developing a strong social media presence.

Guest Post

As a writer you should be following and supporting other bloggers and their sites. Consider pitching a guest post to your favorite authors. Most blogs accept guest posts and a lot of them are willing to pay for quality content from their guests. Before you send your pitch make sure you take the time to research the blog extensively. What is the style of writing? What is the niche? Develop a pitch that fits in nicely with site you are hoping to guest post for.

Self-Publish your Own Books

Amazon Direct Publishing has made it easy for writers of all experience levels to self-publish paperbacks and ebooks. The best part is that it is free to publish through KDP. Al you have to do is upload your book and wait for people to start purchasing it. Write about your book in your blog and post it all over your social media accounts to help gain some traffic and awareness. With KDP you can earn up to 70% in royalties, keep control of the rights, set your own prices and make changes to the book at any time.

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Management

4 Tools That Will Help You Keep Focus in Meetings

stress ball

Keeping everybody focused on any kind of meeting can be quite a challenge. People are easily distracted and they get bored, especially in long meetings that drone on. However, there are some tools that can help keep focus during a meeting.

Did you know that whiteboards are a critical part of meetings nowadays? It’s one of the focus tools we will look at today.

Visuals

One big help when it comes to the meeting is anything visual. There is a reason why people use tools like PowerPoint, graphs, images, and other types of visuals in meetings – because they help keep focus much better than words alone.

Have you ever been in a meeting, or maybe listening to a school presentation, where a person drones on? It can get boring if a person relies solely on words to get a point across. It can become boring and hard to focus on.

However, when you add snazzy visuals and colorful graphs into the mix, it helps to catch the eyes of those watching and listening. It also helps provide a minor break from word-only presentations that are hard to focus on.

Visuals always help with presentations, not to mention that they are great for getting across points and hammering them home, points out that words alone have trouble getting across.

Recording Device

One of the tools that can be used to help keep focus in meetings is a recording device of sorts. This could be anything; as long as it allows you to record a meeting, it should work fine. This could be an old-school tape recorder, a phone, tablet, or anything else that can record voice.

The point here is that during meetings, people often try and jot down notes and write down what the speaker is saying.

However, this actually distracts from the task at hand, because when people are writing notes, they are n’t listening or taking in additional information. It is actually pretty hard to take a new point in when you are also writing the last point down.

Therefore, a recording device to record all things said in a meeting can come in handy.

Instead of having people write down notes and lightning speed and not absorb information; people can actually listen to what is being said. Then, instead of referring to notes for reference, they can simply listen to the recording.

Stress Ball

This might seem like an odd tool when it comes to helping people keep focus in meetings, but it does work. Some people probably wouldn’t qualify stress balls as being tools, but in reality, they are.

Stress balls are those little softballs which people have in their hands and squeeze to relieve stress. They might be stress relief tools, but this is exactly why they can help people focus.

People don’t listen well when they are stressed out, and a stress ball helps to combat this. Furthermore, many people have to be doing something with their hands, which is why they invented those fidget spinners that were a big deal last year. It’s hard to focus on a meeting when you are constantly looking for something for your hands to do.

A stress ball in your hands can solve both of these problems quite adequately. Make sure you don’t get a noisy one, or else everybody else in the meeting room will not be happy with you.

Whiteboard

When it comes down to it, one of the most useful tools to help keep people focused during a meeting is undoubtedly the whiteboard. This has to do with our first point – that visuals help to keep attention.

Whiteboards are pretty big, they have great contrast between the surface and the colored markers, and they allow for great organization.

Whoever is leading the meeting can use various colors of markers to jot down the most important ideas, which are easy for everybody to see.

Whiteboards are also highly portable, so they can be moved from one meeting room to another. If you did not already know, whiteboards are becoming a staple of every meeting room and classroom out there today.

Conclusion

These 4 items or tools that we have discussed here today are fantastic for helping you and others keep their focus during meetings. It can be hard to keep focus, especially in a long meeting and in a room full of people. Hopefully, you can put these items to good use to increase focus and productivity.

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