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100 Ways to Improve Your Business—and Your Life

These "micro-actions" will only take you seven minutes or less, but can lead to larger-scale change.

By Allyson Lewis, CFP

Many people believe change is too hard and requires too much time and effort. I disagree. I believe that if you are willing to implement some of the smallest changes, your life can change in monumental increments. A micro-action is the concept of using a tiny action or effort to make an enormous difference in an outcome.

The 100 actions that I have listed for you take just seven minutes (or less). Why just seven minutes? Studies have shown that the average corporate executive has an attention span of seven minutes. Further, according to Harvard psychologist George Miller, the brain is limited to remembering only seven pieces of information at a time. I know that my own attention can wander easily, so I have created processes, systems, actions and ideas for working through the day that are short and easy to implement.

Here are 100 seven-minute micro-actions for positive change to help you maximize your ability to succeed.

  1. Buy a variety of business appropriate gifts for your office so you are more likely to give them out when the occasion arises.

  2. Practice to perfect your ?elevator pitch? for yourself or your company.

  3. Contact a top customer and ask what he likes best or least about the service you provide.

  4. Sift through your email by ?sender? and delete unnecessary emails. Save important ones in folders, or set up important ?senders? emails to be automatically stored in an inbox folder.

  5. Send out birthday cards to associates, clients or contacts.

  6. Make a list of three things you offer your customers that your competitors do not.

  7. When dining out, order a glass of water with your dinner.

  8. Park away from the restaurant so you will have to walk.

  9. Start a file of ?remove me? catalogs and mailers and call the organizations and ask them to remove you from their lists.

  10. Write a thank-you note to a team member.

  11. Plan what clothes you will wear this week.

  12. Pack a ?travel-ready? suitcase to have on hand at all times.

  13. Before traveling, confirm that the hotel has adequate exercise facilities.

  14. Send your assistant a gift for no reason.

  15. Clip an article or forward an online article to a colleague.

  16. Pass on your most recent favorite book list to a colleague.

  17. Organize your desk or your computer?s desktop to stay ahead of the clutter.

  18. Call a mentor just to keep in touch or ask one compelling question.

  19. Bring coffee and muffins to the office to share.

  20. Replace the paper in the office copier when you see the paper is running low.

  21. Dispose of clutter in the office kitchen.

  22. Organize or input your newly collected business cards.

  23. Send a handwritten note to two people.

  24. Listen to seven minutes of an audio book or podcast in the car or in your office.

  25. Stretch your fingers, wrists, neck and lower back so you will not fatigue as quickly at your computer or desk.

  26. Write in your daily journal any hope, challenge, risk, fear, struggle or joy that you are facing and what you have learned.

  27. Surf the internet to research a topic of professional development.

  28. Study the photos you have in your office and reflect on the memories.

  29. Pick up the phone and cold call the most successful person you can think of and ask them your burning question.

  30. Schedule one-hour appointments with yourself throughout the month?s calendar so you can protect time slots for yourself.

  31. Identify three energy drains that you must eliminate or address.

  32. Call your local college or university?s business department and ask for the details of hiring an intern and do it.

  33. Create or update the signature file in your email program.

  34. Set up a text file on your computer that answers the three most common questions you get on a regular basis so you can copy, paste and send.

  35. Create a recycle bin for the office kitchen.

  36. Plan out the agenda for your next meeting, including topics, speakers and start times and end times.

  37. Schedule a networking opportunity to visit a new club or attend a chamber of commerce event.

  38. Throw away old, nonworking pens, markers and pencils.

  39. Dust your computer monitor.

  40. Visit your organization?s online store and buy a few logo items for your team.

  41. Write a handwritten note to someone in payroll or some other ?thankless? department, and thank him for making your work possible, easier or better.

  42. Order breakfast goodies or lunch for a top client. Include a note that says, ?Sorry I couldn?t join you in person. Enjoy!?

  43. Go to the website of your local professional association and submit a speaker proposal form.

  44. Keep written goals and revise them daily.

  45. Send a thank-you note to your favorite or largest client.

  46. Clean your keyboard with a can of compressed air.

  47. Dust your desk.

  48. Place recent photos around your office.

  49. Delete any unnecessary computer files.

  50. Clean out one drawer of your office desk.

  51. Arrive seven minutes early to your next meeting and relax.

  52. Create an agenda for your next staff meeting.

  53. Throw away any unnecessary paper.

  54. Clean out your briefcase.

  55. Buy a timer for your office.

  56. Schedule a meeting with a mentor.

  57. Schedule a telephone conference call with a star in your industry.

  58. Start a list of your to-do items.

  59. Plan an offsite retreat for your team.

  60. Replenish the tools you need to be most productive at your desk?pens, sticky note pads, file folders, tape, paperclips.

  61. Create a someday/maybe to-do list for items that are long term.

  62. Personalize your space by adding pictures.

  63. Consider your team members? talents. Are you using each to his fullest potential?

  64. Subscribe to your industry?s trade journals.

  65. Stretch your body to revive yourself.

  66. Clip an article or forward an online article to a colleague or customer.

  67. Create a spreadsheet of tasks you perform weekly so you can systematize your work.

  68. Drink water while you work.

  69. Carry a water bottle everywhere you go.

  70. Invite a member of the staff to lunch to say thank you.

  71. Print a daily progress report from our website and photocopy it for your files.

  72. Water your plants and flowers.

  73. Ask about a staff member?s family.

  74. Eat a piece of fruit.

  75. Stock a desk drawer with deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, a brush and pain reliever.

  76. Clean off your bookshelf to make room for new books and reference guides.

  77. Review the holdings in your 401(k).

  78. Dust pictures and artwork.

  79. Create a shredding bin to accumulate all of the documents that do not need to be thrown in the trash can.

  80. Shred your confidential documents.

  81. Pick up any trash outside your office.

  82. Add potted plants and flowers to your lobby.

  83. Rearrange your office.

  84. Create an email distribution list for your team members.

  85. Create and copy a personalized fax cover sheet.

  86. Read 10 pages of a book.

  87. Schedule a regular computer backup.

  88. Record a new message on your voicemail.

  89. Schedule a vacation so you can rest.

  90. Order dinner for pick up.

  91. Place a picture of your pets on your desk.

  92. Place a number of business cards in your wallet or purse so they are always handy.

  93. Practice to improve your body language.

  94. Write an introduction statement that defines what you do and why you are different.

  95. Discontinue any magazine subscriptions that are no longer pertinent.

  96. Buy frozen meals to eat when you are stuck at the office.

  97. Make a list of 10 books that can improve your career knowledge.

  98. Instigate an office potluck.

  99. Take a different route to work.

  100. Tell a friend about The Seven Minute Difference.

Allyson Lewis, CFP, is the author of The Seven Minute Difference. For the free report ?10 Tips for Remarkable Advisors,? visit www.TheSevenMinuteDifference.com. You can also view the Lewis? video with additional micro-actions.

 


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