5 Super Simple Productivity Tips That Can Give Your Workflow a Huge Boost

I have tried all of these personally and they’ve worked wonders for me over the years.

1. Get a big monitor … really big one! You won’t believe the kind of efficiency big screen real-estate can bring to your day to day work. If you have the space and can afford one, this is the first thing you should spend on. You’ll be able to scroll faster, multi-task faster, less window switching … everything becomes faster and better.

2. If you have the habit of keeping your phone on the table while you work, keep it face down. Don’t let the notifications distract you. Looking at the phone multiple times while you work breaks the flow and focus. Keeping it face down means you’d know if a call comes, but won’t be bothered by the notifications.

3. Buy multiple chargers and cables. Keep some in your work bag, one near your desk, one at home where you usually sit with your laptop …. if you were to start adding up the minutes you’ve spend over the years finding that charger or the cable, you’re likely to be surprised. Let’s stop adding more minutes to that list.

4. Use a different account/profile on your computer or browser for non-work stuff. Switch to that profile when you want to have some leisure time like games, social media etc.

5. Identify the most important task for the day before you begin work. This might sound trivial but could have a huge impact on the results you deliver in the long term. Too often our days are spent firefighting, tackling things that may not need our attention. We keep procrastinating on the important tasks because they seem overwhelming. A good way to fix this is to take them up one at a time. And it could be one task that’s spread over several days. It doesn’t need to be a “different” most important task every day. It could well be the same task. But it ensures that you work on it every day, eventually completing it.

Success Requires Mastering the Inner and Outer Game

Shah Rukh Khan, India’s most celebrated actor, didn’t reach the top by just being a good actor.

Warren Buffet didn’t become the richest investor by just spotting great businesses and buying them at low prices.

Roger Federer didn’t become one of the greatest tennis players by just being amazing at playing tennis.

Recognizing your specific skill and then working hard to hone it is one thing. Becoming very successful using that skillset is another thing.

Reaching the top requires you to master both the inner and the outer game.

The inner game is what goes on in your head, what you believe in, how deftly you are able to work at it.

Inner game is about growth mindset. It is the belief that you can get better at doing something. It is spending hours at practicing the right thing.

But that is not enough to be truly successful.

Shah Rukh Khan or any other successful actor for that matter also needed to play the outer game well to make it to the top.

That requires networking with the right producers, doing films that he didn’t like at first, grabbing opportunities which others passed on, persuading good people to work with him, hiring the right managers and agents.

Spotting a great business and trying to buy it at a low price is one thing. Convincing the entrepreneur to sell is another. Warren Buffet did that and that required some amazing persuasion skills.

Playing great tennis is one thing. But the ability to be totally calm in the face of defeat and compartmentalizing it to the extent that you totally forget about your crushing defeat in a grand slam final and immediately start playing with your twins right after the match is a whole another skillset. Roger Federer is a master at compartmentalizing.

He would also go out of the way to help brands and fellow players when it came to things like a commercial shoot or a fundraiser.

Next time when you think that you’re as good as acting or at business or at playing tennis as someone who’s super successful, know that it’s not just about that one game.

Success requires playing both the inner and outer games, and playing them really well.

Notes from Built to Sell by John Warrillow

Hire a sales team to do the selling. By team, I mean at least 2 people, because sales people are competitive in nature and two people doing sales can bring in some healthy competition (and more sales).

The salesperson should be someone who enjoys selling (duh) and also loves the product.

Even if you’re bored of running your business and selling because you desperately need a break, don’t use that as an answer to “Why are you selling your company?”. Nobody wants to hear a founder leaving their business which they built from scratch. Instead talk about why you think the business will grow well under someone else, its potential, etc. and also say that you’re willing to stay for the transition. Details could be worked out later and you could convince them later on your exit.

Things to have clarity on with the buyer before selling your company: What happens to the working capital / cash in the bank

Product-focused companies are more sellable and can fetch a higher multiple than service-focused companies. A product can also be a specific workflow or template that you follow while giving a service. Think of your company as selling products, and use jargons accordingly — company, not firm. Customers, not clients.

The founder/CEO should try to make themselves as dispensable as possible. If a team can run and grow a company without them then that is the business a buyer would be most interested in, and it also ensures a smooth exit for the founder.

Document processes and build systems inside your company. Even creative work, like creating a logo, can be documented step-wise and made into a system. If you want to scale then systems and processes are essential.

Stop doing everything and focus on few things. As a company, becoming known for a few things might work in your favour. That also helps your sales team become experts in that niche and sell it well.

Stop accepting work that’s outside of your scalable product/service/focus. This is easier said than done and there will be a lot of temptation. But in the long-term, this will work in the company’s favour.

If you’d like to have a business you could sell, you need to prove to a buyer that you have a management team who can run the business after you’re gone. What’s more, you need to show that the management team is locked into staying with your company after acquisition. Avoid using equity to retain key management through an acquisition, as it will unnecessarily complicate the sale process and dilute your holdings. Instead, create a long-term incentive plan for your key managers. Each year, take an amount equivalent to their annual bonus and put it aside in a long-term incentive account earmarked for each manager you want to retain. Allow the manager to withdraw one-third of the account’s balance each year after a three-year period. That way, a good manager must always walk away from a significant amount of money should he or she decide to leave your company.

You may also choose to “top up” the balance in a long-term incentive plan with a one-time special bonus in the event of the sale of your business. That way, your key managers will have an increased incentive to help you sell your business and stay with your company after the sale to get their share of the proceeds.

When choosing a broker or an M&A firm, remember that they should work for you and get you competing offers. If you get a whiff of the fact that are in bed with a buyer and usually make their money by helping them buy companies for cheap then you should sever ties from the broker/banker immediately.

Don’t issue stock options to retain key employees after an acquisition. Instead, use a simple stay bonus that offers the members of your management team a cash reward if you sell your company. Pay the reward in two or more instalments only to those who stay so that you ensure your key staff stays on through the transition.

Notes from Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker

Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker focuses mostly on one’s professional life and how to do fulfilling work. It’s a short, easy read that you can finish in one sitting. The author focuses on advice that’s practical and urges readers to test them out over a period of time. This can prove to be a good book to refer to whenever you feel unsure about your professional life and need direction.

Managing one’s professional life is more important in the knowledge and information age, than it was when people were mostly committed to a single, labor-intensive job for their entire work life.

The first step to manage oneself is to know your strengths. You need to know what comes to you naturally because that’s the area of work you can excel at.

The only way to accurately estimate your strengths is through feedback analysis. Check the results of your key decisions and actions after a period of 12 months to see if they’re in line with your expectations. If they are then you know what you’re good at.

Once you know where your strengths lie, begin work on improving them and acquiring skills that’ll help you realize your strengths fully. No matter how good an architect is, he’d still need to work with builders and carpenters to realize his vision and he should know how to get them to work for him.

Knowing how you learn is crucial. Do you learn by listening, reading, writing or talking? Schools force us to learn in established ways but that might not work for all of us. Once you understand how you learn, you can deploy that knowledge into building processes that help you succeed. For instance, readers would want to get detailed reports on a matter while a listener or a talker would prefer meetings.

Do you like working alone or with people? An important question to consider as a knowledge worker in this age.

Do you like taking decisions or giving advice? Some people work best as advisers but can’t bear the responsibility of taking a decision (even though they know what needs to be done), while some are decision makers.

The most important one: What are your values? Sometimes your strengths and interests might align with a job but your values won’t. You might excel in such a position but it’s unlikely that you’ll derive a sense of satisfaction. Knowing your values and how you want to contribute to this world is important if you want to have a fulfilling life.

Managing oneself also means taking responsibility of your relationships and how you communicate with people. Barring a few great artists, nobody has ever succeeded without the help of people.

It’s about knowing yourself, knowing what your strengths are, how you learn, how you work with people and how you want to contribute to this world. “Successful careers are not planned. They develop when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their method of work, and their values. Knowing where one belongs can transform an ordinary person—hardworking and competent but otherwise mediocre—into an outstanding performer.”