Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

Productivity, Best Practices, Performance

Recent Posts

entrepreneurial time squeeze

My dad, Johnny Nagel, a common sense, hard-working man with entrepreneurial wisdom beyond his sixth-grade education, had a sign posted on the door of his makeshift office. It read…

If you don’t have time to do things right the first time, how much time do you have to them over?

entrepreneurial time squeeze

As a diesel mechanic in a small, farming community, grain farmers relied on Dad to deliver their hay balers, combines, and tractors within a suitable timeframe. Due to North Dakota’s limited growing and harvesting season, the speed of return to the grain fields was critical.

With a demand to finish harvest before the cold, hard Dakota winters set it, Dad felt the pressure to deliver machinery, often before it was fully repaired and ready.

“Good enough” was not good enough for Dad’s approach to the service he committed to providing.

Although it was difficult for harried farmers to see the value of making proper repairs from the outset, Dad’s commitment to quality work ultimately prevented costly delays for his clients.

His attitude and approach to business were the first, and the most influential, lessons I learned as an entrepreneur. It inspired me to deliver quality work with the utmost integrity — not just occasionally — but time and time again.

The High Cost of Entrepreneurial Blunders & Missteps 

In a rush to get to market, we hurry through our business planning process. We tell yourselves we don’t have time! Yet, our perceived time crunch causes a failure to identify critical strategies. This blunder ultimately triggers a flurry of costly marketing mistakes and the need to take up the planning process once again.

How much time (and money) do we have to do things over?

We sprint through research overlooking vital statistics that would accurately position our offerings. We don’t have time — or so we tell ourselves! Following months of lackluster results, this fundamental mistake forces us to realign our products. Yikes!

How much time (and money) is it going to take to do things over?

Corners are cut on a critical project for a high-profile client. This ultimately doubles your project overhead and drastically reduces your profit. Why? We didn’t have time to do things right from the inception — or so we tell ourselves. Not only does this create grounds for the loss of future contracts but puts a permanent dent in our reputation.

How much time…oh, never mind. There’s no do-over when delivering less-than-expected results to a client.

Certainly, interpreting ‘doing things right the first time’ is left to the individual. Whether it’s our planning process, client promises, or work quality, when we find ourselves unreasonable rushing or struggling, remember the philosophy of my Dad, Johnny Nagel — “if you don’t have time to do things right the first time; how much time do you need to do things over?” 

This simple, yet profound approach to business saves us from costly mistakes and unnecessary stress.

Let’s face it! Sometimes our best made plans just don’t come to fruition. Rather than waste valuable time and energy trying to force your plan to work, you may need to renegotiate — with yourself.

As entrepreneurs we pride ourselves on getting things done. But, when getting things done begins to feels more like you’re pushing your head through a very tiny knothole in a fence, its time for drastic measures.

Even though a commitment made to oneself does not constitute a legal and binding agreement, the depth of the promises you make to yourself would say otherwise. Deeply held commitments, especially when it comes to business tactics that aren’t working, only serve to bottleneck your growth

You renegotiate your mortgage rate, the terms of agreement with a provider, who’s going to carry out the trash…why not put your negotiation skills to work to keep things moving in your business.

Nothing is engraved in granite (unless you’re talking about that geeky plaque you won in 4th grade for the science award). Being you were the one who set the parameters of your initial commitment, you also are the one who can negotiate new terms — with yourself.

What’s not working as well as you would like in your business? Do you need to have a “good talkin’ to”? Go face-to-face with yourself — and don’t back down until you get what you want.

Entrepreneurs are driven to continually improve productivity. Taking a page from Lifehacker’s This is How I Work Series, here are some productivity tips that help me work grow my business, and that of others.

Productivity strategies didn’t come naturally for me. A diagnosis that left me with a 4-hour workday (on good days) compelled me to be creative with prioritization and getting things done that mattered.

I’m Jackie Nagel, and This is How I Work

 1. Start my day with “me”. I love to read. It sparks my creativity and fuels my brain cells. Before the flurry of activities begin, I meet each day at 5 am with a cup of coffee and my Kindle.

2. Work my best hours. Each of us has an internal clock that conveys the best time during which we are most productive. Mine is early mornings. I concentrate on key goal-oriented, business growth activities between 6 am – 12 noon. I save afternoons for activities that don’t require my brain cells firing on all cylinders.

3. Prioritize goal-related activities. This was counterintuitive to my previous work approach. With a compressed time frame in which to achieve my goals, I shifted my mindset from putting out fires to activities aligned with my business mission, vision, and goals. The Daily Goal Planner re-focused my efforts. You can download it for free here.

4. Move it. I used to be quite active — until I became an entrepreneur. Pulled by the stress and overwhelm of running a business, exercise quickly went by the wayside…until I was told I would never run a marathon or climb a mountain. These were not events on my bucket list — until that moment.

Daily exercise clears cobwebs in my brain, helps me get clear, brings new creativity and energy to my business, and gives me a renewed sense of optimism, hope, and confidence.

5. Break often. Have you heard the saying, “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy”? The same is true for entrepreneurs. “Taking 10” (preferably outside) every 90 minutes boosts productivity and performance.

6. Automate. Advancements in technology have made automation affordable for small business owners. I continually scour the Internet to find automation solutions for any and all repetitive activities.

7. Take control of email. Email is a huge productivity-killer. Frankly, it’s not fulfilling, satisfying, or productive to spend my day in my inbox. ActiveInBoxHQ is a tool that I use to quickly turns emails into tasks to be completed based on the priority of my goals. And, I use Evernote as a repository for stimulating articles to read later.

Unsubscribing from all but essential newsletters and turning off all social media notifications easily cut email by 50%.

Around 10 am, I scan email for mission-critical communication. Interestingly, most emails don’t require an immediate response, which allows me to quickly return to key business growth activities.

8. Control social media. Oh, how I love (and despise) social media. I love the interactions but I loath the time lost to social media. Clear social media goals and strategies help me engage in social media at a time best aligned with my priorities and goals. As a result, social media doesn’t pull me off course.

9. Say “no”. Who doesn’t get bombarded by a multitude of requests during the course of the day? Join this affiliation program. Connect with me on this social media platform. Attend this networking event. Having clear goals — and a marketing persona — made it much easier to know when to say “no” and was a tremendous boost to my productivity.

10. Know when to call it quits. Whether it’s for the day or the week, knowing when to push myself away from my desk prevents burnout and renews my energy to perform.

Do I still struggle with staying the course, sticking to the plan, and focusing on the most important activities influencing my business growth? You bet! But, these 10 tips have certainly been a boon to my productivity.

Productivity is a continual process of letting go of what’s not working and discovering new ways to become more productive. As long as you’re willing to explore your options, you can look forward to achieving your goals more quickly with less stress.

So….What’s your name, and how do you work?

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

Search The Blog