Posts

Radical Candor – July’s Book Brief

As you know, the Betties team reads an enticing new book each month in order to share our notes and takeaways with you. This month, we read Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott.

This guide to being a better boss offers a simple ideation that you have to both challenge and care. Without one or the other, your management style is severely lacking and not nearly as effective as you hope to be. Kim Scott has a reputation of leading at Google as well as Apple, where she developed a class on how to be a good boss. Her real-life stories and insightful advice truly round out her expertise in being an effective manager to give us this fabulous book.

Some of our most valuable takeaways include:

1. Every team needs rockstars and superstars.

A rockstar is like the Rock of Gibraltar and you can always lean on them and depend on them. They are steady and brilliant at what they do and they are not gunning for the next promotion. A superstar does an equally great job but they will go absolutely crazy if they are still in the same job a year from now. Use this to build a strong team that will grow with you.

2. Create a path for growth for frontline workers.

Give them a path that comes with better wages and opportunity, without having to be a management path. Make it more attractive than the management path, because people will often gravitate to that thinking it’s their only choice. This is how to nurture your superstars.

3. Avoid a shit sandwich.

This goes against everything we have always been taught but there is no good bad good balance that should be sought out. Praise the good and be candid about the bad. When you force yourself to package something like the s*** sandwich, it’s insincere and people will see right through it.

4. Encourage discussion of problems.

This is where creativity is at its finest. When you tell people to bring you solutions, it shuts down the creative process of having that discussion around the problem. Create a process for suggestions with something like a vote up or down, then provide feedback to your staff on what happened to their idea.

5. What can I do (or stop doing) that will make it easier to work with me?

Ask this of your subordinates, and during skip meetings, ask team members the same question of their manager. Always work to improve in the way you manage your staff.

6. Make it your personal business to find out the hopes and dreams each of the people who work under you.

Whether it’s business or personal, if you find out what they want to do and then can coach them or somehow tie that into what they are doing now, it gives them purpose. For example, a girl at Google wanted to run a spirulina farm (which is a far cry from her work at Google). Her manager listened to her dream and offered to mentor her on being a leader. When she’s ready to leave and start that farm, she will be a capable leader.

Have you read Radical Candor? 

How has it helped you improve your management style?

5 Ways to Shave Off One Working Hour Each Day

What could you do with an extra hour in your work day? Would you cut your day short to spend more time with your family? Would you be able to take on extra cases? How about start working on that new venture you’ve been thinking about? We’ve compiled a list of 5 simple ways to shave off one working hour each day.

Save Time in Your Day

  1. Batch your tasks.

    The first tip on the list is one of our favorites. If you are not familiar with batching your tasks, this means to sit down and block out certain chunks of times for similar tasks. Say you need to return client messages: Block out 2 hours to do so and get them all out of the way for the week so that you can move on and cross this off your to-do list. When we switch between tasks repeatedly, our productivity levels go down and we waste time on getting refocused. Batching tasks is a fabulous solution!

  2. Eliminate distractions.

    If you are ready to sit down and batch your tasks, it is important to use your time wisely without getting distracted. Turn your phone over so your notifications don’t grab your attention, lock your office door so nobody interrupts you, and stay off of social media. This goes back to bouncing between tasks; stay focused to save time!

  3. Plan your day in advance.

    You may never be able to predict an urgency that pops up, but you can do your best to plan your day in advance. Sit down and block out time slots for certain tasks, take account of important appointments, and have a strong overview of the day ahead. Try not to stray, as this really affects your productivity and can quickly add time to your work day.

  4. Hire an answering service.

    Phone calls are a total time-suck. If you try and do other things while on the call, your client will notice they do not have your full attention. If you try to take every single call, your day can float right on by you and you find yourself still at the office at 9 pm because your work isn’t finished. Hiring an answering service gets your calls answered and important messages delivered to you, without the need for you to talk to every single caller. Hello, time freedom!

  5. Schedule some R&R.

    This may seem counterintuitive, but a brain that is always go go go will never be as productive as the brain that has space to decompress. Be sure to schedule some time to do something you enjoy in order to have yourself in your best state of mind. Rest and relaxation will keep you functioning at your highest levels and save you time in your overall productivity.

Implement These Time-Saving Tips

Which of these tips will you take on first? Start with at least one today and see just how much time you can save!

If you’d like to gain some insight on the time freedom that comes with delegating your phone calls to an outside party, sign up for a free 7 day trial with Back Office Betties today.

Betties Book Brief: The Happiness Project

This month, our team at Back Office Betties had the privilege of reading The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.

The Happiness Project is rarely described as a book or a blog. More often it’s described as a “movement”. This book takes you on Gretchen Rubin’s year-long journey to answer the question “What do I want from life, anyway?” The simple answer? “To be happy.”

The Happiness Project is great for people that are on the go, lead busy lives, and generally just don’t have the time to dedicate to a lengthy tutorial on how to live your best life. Each chapter is packed with useful information and provide abundant stopping points if time constraints require you to tackle a few pages at a time, or you simply want to reflect after taking in these words of wisdom.

We’ve compiled some top takeaways for you which will be beneficial in your daily pursuit of happiness below:

1. Spread happiness and be near people who spread it too

“In a phenomenon called “emotional contagion,” we unconsciously catch emotions from other people – whether they are good moods or bad ones. Taking time to be silly means that we’re infecting one another with good cheer, and people who enjoy silliness are one third more likely to be happy.”

2. Challenge and growth are the keys to happiness

“Challenge and novelty are key elements to happiness. The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction. If you do new things – visit a museum for the first time, learn a new game, travel to a new place, meet new people – you’re more apt to feel happy than people who stick to familiar activities.”

3. Working towards a goal makes you as happy as achieving it

“The challenge, therefore, is to take pleasure in the “atmosphere of growth,” in the gradual progress made toward a goal, in the present. The unpoetic name for this very powerful source of happiness is “pre-goal-attainment positive effect.”

“Enjoy the process.”

4. It’s normal to search for happiness even if you’re already prosperous financially

“As countries become richer, their citizens become less focused on physical and economic security and more concerned with goals such as happiness and self-realization. Prosperity allows us to turn our attention to more transcendent matters – to yearn for lives not just of material comfort but of meaning, balance, and joy.”

5. Being productive takes focus but brings happiness.

One great way to free up some time to focus on your own Happiness Project? Hire virtual receptionists from Back Office Betties at your law firm! You can only focus on so much every day. By using a virtual receptionist, you have more time and energy to focus on going to court and dealing with other aspects of your practice and life. You can leave your law firm’s phone calls to our competent, well-trained, and courteous virtual receptionists!

Showing Appreciation

Showing your employees that you appreciate them should not just be an item on the agenda but a top priority. Recognizing your employees is crucial because they work hard for you every day.  It can also be beneficial for you, increasing workplace morale thus an increase in productivity.

In addition, it builds a loyal team that feels confident to take on more difficult and daunting tasks. Plus, its easy. Showing appreciation to your team doesn’t have to be a big, expensive production. For Example, Back Office Betties appreciates our employees by:

  • Offering a $15 an hour minimum wage.
  • Creating “Flow Time” for our team to unplug and relax by listening to music and taking time out to recharge.
  • Providing a beautiful office fund every year so employees can buy something for their desk, office, etc. (making it their ‘space’).

Get Creative!

However, there is a ton of different ways to show your employees you care about them – be creative! Here are a few ideas that you can explore implementing into your business:

  • Ask for employee feedback by offering a survey. This will tell them that their voice matters and that they are being heard. It also shows them that you as a leader want to meet their needs and provide the best work environment as possible.  
  • Allow them to take extra breaks or longer lunches.
  • Organize a team service project for an organization of your employees’ choice. This is a great way to not only give back to your employees but give back to the community!
  • Simply tell your employees how grateful you are for their hard work in person or through a handwritten letter/card.

These are just a few of so many easy and creative ways to show your employees that you care about them. Never shy away from opportunities to show employee appreciation, you will find that it is very rewarding for them to hear!  Even more so, it’s gratifying for you too!

Knowing When To Take A Break

Staying on task and productivity is never-ending within our jobs.  Day in and day out, we must work towards our production goals and meet deadlines.  It requires constant efforts to keep our minds operating at a high level.  Sometimes we plan to go to bed early or eat a good balanced breakfast to jump-start our focus in the morning.  But how do we keep our mental focus throughout the day?  Unlike machines, our brains require constant mental breaks to keep our focus at an ideal level.

Pomodoro Breaks

An effective method that works incredibly well is the Pomodoro Technique.  Francesco Cirillo developed the Pomodoro Technique in the late 1980s.  This technique is very simple and only requires you to have a timer.  One “Pomodoro” is characterized by 25 minutes of uninterrupted work.  A suggestion for ensuring your work is uninterrupted is turning off your phone and putting your computer into airplane mode (if you can) during the 25 minutes.  The key for the Pomodoro technique to work is there must be an intensive focus for the duration that the timer is on.  After the 25 minutes is up, stop wherever you are and walk away.  Set another timer for 5 minutes, and once that timer goes off its back where you left off.  This is repeated until a set is completed, which is 4 Pomodoro’s.  After completing a set, a longer break is then taken at 15-30 minutes.

Here is an example:

  • Pomodoro 1 for 25 minutes, then Break 1 for 5 minutes
  • Pomodoro 2 for 25 minutes, then Break 2 for 5 minutes
  • Pomodoro 3 for 25 minutes, then Break 3 for 5 minutes
  • Pomodoro 4 for 25 minutes, then SET 1 Complete
  • Break  for 15 to 30 minutes
  • REPEAT

The beauty of the Pomodoro Technique is that if done correctly, you are getting more work done by the end of the day even though you are taking more breaks.  Sounds kind of counter-intuitive right?  The genius is in understanding that the brain can’t maintain maximum concentration for longer than half an hour without at least a couple minutes to recuperate.

Being Strategic

While using the Pomodoro Technique is a fantastic way to get done with tasks in the short term, sometimes a different system is necessary to get yourself back into peak performance.

The Strategic Coach Entrepreneurial Time System is an effective way to manage your time at work while also giving you the mental break that you need.  This system is designed to make scheduled days in which you have Free Days, Focus Days, and Buffer Days.   You can re-organize your time to effectively produce results – which is what every entrepreneur needs!  It’s mapped out quarterly.  Here is a short breakdown:

Free Days & Rejuvenation:  Look at the total number of free days in a quarter and establish when your free days are going to be on your calendar.  Think of ways that you can increase your level of revitalization physically and mentally.

Focus Days & Productivity:  After you have scheduled your Free Days, look at the number of days needed to focus.   Think of ways to increase your overall productivity (i.e., financial results, effective communication, creative brainstorming, etc.).

Buffer Days & Preparation:  Once you have your Free and Focus Days scheduled, you will then consider Buffer Days.  This area is to increase the preparation needed for your Free and Focus Days.

For full details of the Strategic Coach Entrepreneurial Time System, click on the hyperlink.  Strategic Coach also has great content articles designed for entrepreneurs to continually grow.

Find What Works

To combat work fatigue, consider using a method that is right for you.  Create a plan in your schedule to take mental health breaks.  In the long run, taking breaks will help you to stay focused and increase your productivity.

Back Office Betties