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10 Bad Habits That Hurt Your Business

Quit holding on to bad business practices.

Allyson Lewis, 07/22/2010

One of the simplest ways to implement better business practices is to quit holding on to bad business practices. If you want to be more successful, then take a long hard look at your daily activities and make the decision to remove any bad habits that may be holding you back and hurting your business.

Here are 10 bad habits and 10 seven-minute solutions:

1. No Clear Vision or Definition of Purpose
Clarity provides freedom from ambiguity. With a clear vision, you are able to know what is most important for you to accomplish. Clarity provides a framework to simplify your life, and to define your purpose. When you have a deep understanding of your priorities and values it is much easier to be persistent in your daily tasks--they will gain new meaning and your work can become fulfilling.

2. Not Having 90-Day Goals
Once you have clarified your vision and your purpose you will need to establish 90-day goals. These 90-day goals force you to prioritize what you want to do. Make sure you write your 90-day goals in present tense, as though they have already happened. Next, create five specific action steps that you can implement to will help you achieve each goal.

3. Not Being Challenged by Your Work--No Motivation
When work becomes routine you quickly lose motivation. A self imposed challenge, however,  can be exactly what you need to re-ignite your drive and motivation. Challenges can include revenue goals, certifications, or learning or mastering new skill sets. Every week, make a point to learn something new, novel, creative, fun, and challenging--these activities add excitement and variety to your daily work.

4. Disorganization
Disorganization is a huge problem in corporate America. Every morning you must have a daily written plan of action. We call this having a five before 11 list. Your five before 11 list is a list of five "high-value" activities that you are willing to complete before 11 a.m. every day. Review the action steps from your 90-day goals worksheet and make sure some of your "high-value" activities are drawing you closer to your goals.

5. Distraction and Interruption
In a 357-person time-management survey conducted by Seven Minutes, Inc., distraction and constant interruption ranked as the twin thieves of productivity. Isn't it interesting that you are often most distracted by tools that were originally intended to improve productivity:

* Telephones
* Cell phones
* Computers
* E-mail
* Text messages

To combat distraction, try increasing your attention span by focusing on one task at a time. For 30 minutes, turn off the ringer on your telephones, turn off your e-mail, and focus on starting and completely finishing one project at a time.

6. Lack of Repeatable Systems and Processes
Almost every job has a series of daily tasks that could be done more efficiently by creating checklists, forms, and procedures. Click here to download 12 of our most popular time management and productivity tools. From creating a repeatable five before 11 list, to having a simple checklist for daily activities, to using a meeting planner agenda--you can save time by implementing repeatable systems.

7. Unfinished Tasks
Everyone has a mental or a physical "to-do" list. Your "to-do" list is actually a written recognition of all of the unfinished tasks in your life. Your unfinished task list likely includes big projects like updating your business plan and it can include slews of the tiniest tasks like cleaning out an office drawer or making one last administrative phone call. Regardless of their individual magnitude, unfinished tasks drain you of your energy and motivation. Click here to watch this three-minute video (it might take a couple of minutes for the video to buffer) for how you can tame your unfinished task list.

8. Undefined Roles
Great athletic coaches work for years grooming specific individuals on their team to play very specific roles. The role is determined by the gifts and talents of each player. Some players are incredibly strong, and others are incredibly fast, and others think at lightning speed under pressure. Too often we try to be all things to all people rather than working for years to become masters in one or two areas of our practice. Now is the time to decide what roles fit your personality and your aptitudes--and then set out a defined plan of action to increase your competencies, knowledge and skill sets.

9. No Mentor
"Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person." --Mother Teresa
Virtually every goal or dream we have as business men and women has already been accomplished. Throughout history, hundreds of thousands if not millions of people have already discovered many of the secrets to success. Everyday these amazingly successful people are all around you. They live in your neighborhood, their children go to school with your children, you volunteer with them in your community, and, you see them in the grocery store. You know who they are. It's almost impossible not to know them. I call what they have the "all that" factor, they love life and they seem to have something very rare. They have the drive and motivation you long for. They have character and integrity and a deep and abiding understanding of their purpose in life. Your next step is to respectfully reach out to these people and ask them if they would be willing to share their ideas with you.

10. Low Level of Physical Energy
Of all the bad habits listed so far, having a low level of physical energy is by far the most important to monitor. Your physical health is vital to every area of your work and your life. Various studies show that the average American adult averages six and a half to seven hours of sleep per night--while all of us know we need eight hours of sleep to restore and refresh our physical and mental resources. Other surveys indicate that only three or four out of ten adults are exercising on a regular basis. Two of the best and easiest decisions to make are to choose to go to bed on time and if you are physically healthy enough, to add 30 minutes of exercise to your schedule five times per week.

Bad habits take time to develop. For most of us, bad habits have slowly seeped into our lives over months and years. Often we just need to be reminded that it can be easy to replace our bad habits that hurt our practice (and, our lives) with more productive activities. We must just remember for these productive activities to become productive habits we must allow them to become part of our lives over the next weeks, and months and years.

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