July 02, 2014

 
 

These days there are more options than ever to avoid ever feeling truly bored. Got five minutes to spare? Whip out your phone for some gaming or trawl through Twitter. Have a bit more time? Thanks to the wonders of tech you can download your favorite music or TV show in minutes and fill the gap.

At first blush that sounds like a great thing. Who likes being bored, after all? But according to psychologists, if you're keeping yourself perpetually engaged, you may be missing out on the benefits of boredom--yup, you heard that right, boredom, it turns out, is actually good for us.

The Benefits of Boredom

How? Idle brains, scientists have found, aren't just a source of pointless pain. Being bored actually signals to the mind that you're in need of fresh ideas and spurs creative thinking.

Researchers recently confirmed the counter-intuitive creativity-boosting effects of boredom by subjecting one group of study participants to the mind-numbing task of copying out the telephone book for 15 minutes. After attaining a state of utter boredom in this manner, the study subjects were then given a standard test of creativity in which they needed to come up with as many uses as possible for a common household item (in this case a plastic cup). Their results were compared to those of a control group that hadn't been pre-tormented with boredom. The telephone book copiers, it turns out, were more creative.

A follow-up study compared those who given passive but boring tasks (just reading the phone book, i.e. the rough equivalent of hearing someone drone on stultifyingly at a meeting) to those completing the original active but boring task of writing out telephone numbers. Boredom plus daydreaming while passively bored, the psychologists discovered, was an even greater productivity boost (may that be some comfort to you during your next interminable meeting).

PsyBlog points out that writers have long known about and exploited this reality, offering a quote from comedy writer Graham Linehan as an illustration: "I have to use all these programs that cut off the internet, force me to be bored, because being bored is an essential part of writing, and the internet has made it very hard to be bored. The creative process requires a period of boredom, of being stuck."

The Takeaway for Bosses

The author of the telephone book study, Dr Sandi Mann, commented that "boredom at work has always been seen as something to be eliminated, but perhaps we should be embracing it in order to enhance our creativity."

Bosses, she notes, who demand constant busyness may actually be inadvertently denting their team's creativity. "Employers, who are under the misguided notion that boredom is a problem to be eliminated in the workplace through increased activities and tasks, should look to embrace it in order to enhance employee creativity," she advises.

Are you going overboard with your efforts to eliminate boredom?



April 11, 2014

Tutu K. Lawal - These are some great ideas on Leadership that we should all consider applying as appropriate to our workplace. Thoughts that could improve productivity, performance and the bottom-line. 

General Management
In the American workplace, this time of year often means the onset of gift-giving. Whether it’s a formal holiday gift exchange or simply the sharing of a meal, leaders often extend a small token of thanks to their employees in December.

Regardless of your company’s protocol, (and even if your company has a strict policy against gift-giving) you can easily give every one of your team members a meaningful and useful gift this holiday season. With just a bit of introspection, you will know exactly what each person on your team needs.

Introspection, you say? What has that got to do with leadership gift-giving? The biggest give you can give your team is the gift of time and attention. And before you can decide how to direct those two precious resources, you’ll need to invest in a bit of introspection. As fellow SmartBlog on Leadership contributor Lolly Daskal writes, “Introspection and its byproduct, self-awareness, are central to any leadership, no matter what level or position. It is the essence of decision-making, behavioral efforts, action, focused energy, prioritization.”

So block off time on your calendar (30 minutes should do it) and get to work on creating this year’s gift list. But take note: the “gifts” suggested are based on your willingness to open yourself to a different way of giving. Here are seven ideas, free of charge and perfect for the people in your leadership sphere.

An introspective leader can give the gift of:

Humility: Make a mistake lately? Own up to it and vow to do better next time. “I messed up and I will fix it” are powerful words. Your team will appreciate your willingness to learn from your mistakes. Better yet, tell a team member how you learned an important lesson by watching him in action. “Steve, it was really something how you were able to negotiate that rental space. I think that technique you used was outstanding; I’ll have to try it myself the next time I negotiate.”

Gratitude: It’s great if you’re at the top of your game, but you didn’t get there all by yourself. Who haven’t you thanked lately? Make a list of all the people you “meant” to thank but haven’t quite found the time to do so. Then sit down and write (yes, write) out thank-you notes. Or, pick up the phone and call.

Development: Sure, there are probably things written on your staff’s individual development plans, but go further than that. What can you do right now to help each member of your team grow? It doesn’t need to be a major leap forward; instead think of it as tending a garden that will eventually bloom come springtime. What small stretch assignment can you make? What tasks can you delegate that will also provide a learning opportunity for a team member?

Space: Do you have a team member you’ve been counseling due to sub-par performance? Consider this: has your extra attention turned into micro-managing? There’s a fine line between offering support and smothering a direct report. Would this employee benefit from a bit of space?

Dignity: Many workplaces thrive on good-natured ribbing and joking around. Most of the time, this relieves tensions and builds rapport, if handled appropriately. But once in a while, a joke goes too far or hits a nerve. If you believe that someone’s feelings have been hurt (by you or someone else on the team) circle back to the recipient of the jest. Restore that person’s dignity with an apology, if necessary.

Honesty: Many team leaders seem to be allergic to the words “I don’t know.” Show your team that you’re bigger than that. Having all the answers is not what today’s leadership is about. Rather, it’s being confident enough in yourself to say, “I’m not sure, but I’ll get an answer for you.” And for those questions that have no immediate answer, your honesty will be especially valued: “None of us knows for sure, but we will figure it out together.”

Friendship: This one is for your peers, not your direct reports. Look around you — who could use an encouraging word or an assist on a tough project? If one of your colleagues could use a mentor, think of introducing her to someone who can help. The payoff goes far beyond gaining the “currency” of a favor; research by Lissa Rankin, M.D., author of “Mind Over Medicine.” shows that people with a close network of friends live longer, have healthier brains, survive chronic diseases better and get fewer colds.

Traditional gift-giving in the workplace is fraught with etiquette questions (“how much to spend?” or “is this gift appropriate?”), not to mention financial constraints. Simplify your gift-giving this season: give from the heart and you will not only delight the gift recipients, but you’ll benefit as well.

Original Article written by - Jennifer V. Miller, managing partner of SkillSource


April 08, 2014

Four client pain points you have the expertise to address

 

An AICPA member recently shared a frustrating experience. One of her tax clients was looking into launching a new business, and he wanted assistance developing a business plan and strategies for sustained financial success with the new venture. Instead of asking the CPA for help, the client turned to another third-party provider. Telling me the story, the CPA said: “I just don’t understand why my client didn’t seek my help. I have a long history with the client plus I have the expertise to help him achieve financial milestones within a realistic budget.” My answer: “I bet he didn’t know you could do that.”

Do your clients know the breadth of expertise you offer? With all you have on your plate, the default mode might be to assume clients do know, but now is a good time to capitalize on the assumption that they don’t. If you regularly stay front and center with your clients, you can remind them that, as their strategic partner, you have the unique ability to facilitate solutions to their various goals and challenges. In today’s complex world, clients will be relieved to know they have access to all the services they need in one place—you and your practice.

When you can establish that you have what it takes to address client concerns and aggravations, you will be well on the way to earning the clients’ trust and business. Plug in to your client’s needs using a two-pronged approach:

  • Amp your client communications to remind clients you have their best interests at heart and that part of your job is to monitor developments and opportunities that can impact their business.
  • Make it a priority to ask questions on a regular basis and listen. What are your clients’ objectives? What are their concerns? Reinforce how you can help address your clients’ needs today and also help them plan with a clear eye on the future.

Where do your clients need help? Through discussions with CPA firm owners and analysis of numerous small business news sources and surveys, the following four client pain points stand out:

Client pain point No. 1: Health insurance costs/Affordable Care Act 
Higher insurance premiums and the complexities of the Affordable Care Act are creating all kinds of health care-related headaches for small businesses. With your expertise, you can guide small business clients through the health care reform paperwork and help them choose the best plan for their business. Or you can partner with a legal or insurance professional to provide the right level of client service. The AICPA Health Care Reform Resources Center and the Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) Healthcare Reform Toolkit (which includes client brochures in plain English) can assist you in navigating the complexities of the health care reform provisions so you can help your clients make informed decisions.

Client pain point No. 2: Keeping up with federal and state legislative/regulatory requirements

  • Mobile workforce. There are 41 states that impose a personal income tax on wages, and among those states there are many different requirements regarding the withholding of nonresidents’ income tax. The AICPA has joined the Mobile Workforce Coalition, a group of more than 225 businesses advocating for a uniform national standard for state nonresident income tax withholding.          
  • Identity theft. Fraudsters have found a quick-and-dirty method of stealing from taxpayers by submitting tax returns with stolen tax identification and Social Security numbers. The IRS’s Identity Protection Specialized Unit saw a 78% increase in identity theft cases between FY 2011 and FY 2012, and the IRS expects to issue more than a million identity protection PINs to identity theft victims this year. Are your clients aware of how you can help them wade through the aftermath of identity theft—or to prevent it to begin with? The AICPA Identity Theft Information and Tools can provide you with the information you need to advise clients on how to prevent identity theft.

Client pain point No. 3: Keeping up with tax changes and the complexity of tax laws. Last-minute tax law changes appear to be becoming the new norm. To complicate matters, clients are inundated with information overload through media channels. Clients can find it overwhelming to try to cut through the clutter and identify which changes are relevant to their business. Take the pressure off by reminding your clients that you’re in their corner looking out for their best interests.

  • Uncertain tax positions (UTP). The threshold for companies to be required to report their uncertain tax positions drops to $10 million in assets for TY 2014 returns, and according to the Journal of Accountancy, Schedule UTP is here to stay. Give clients a heads up on new UTP requirements and help them rest easy knowing you are on top of it and can key them in on what they need to be doing differently.

Client pain point No. 4: Gaining access to capital and small business loans. It’s hardly surprising that finding financing continues to be a pain point for clients, but entrepreneurs are finding creative ways of raising capital for businesses and projects through Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms. Crowdfunding, which often takes place over the internet, gives companies the ability to raise funds by attracting relatively small investments from large numbers of people, but new proposed SEC rules could impact those seeking capital through crowdfunding. In addition to the opportunity that crowdfunding presents to small businesses, there is also a high potential for fraud. As your clients’ trusted adviser, you can provide guidance regarding both of these concerns.

The bottom line is that you need to give your clients confidence that you are their go-to person when any issue arises and that you are, in fact, their most trusted confidant and adviser. By plugging in to their concerns, you can connect them to vital information and resources and, in the process, empower them to succeed, which translates to lasting client loyalty.

Aricle written by Natasha Schamberger, CPA

April 07, 2014

The AICPA hears a lot from CPA firms that are in need of a succession plan, and challenged by acquiring new talent or engaging the next generation of staff. In figuring out how to leave their firm in good hands, I think the profession can learn many lessons from today’s comedy leaders like Lorne Michaels of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, Jon Stewart of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and Harold Ramis, as Bill Sheridan pointed out in his Feb. 26 post on CPA Success. They’re working a smart succession planning model. They each gather together a group of gifted staff and give them the opportunity to develop their strengths, making for some very valuable broadcast properties.

Through SNL, Lorne Michaels has nurtured a long list of actors who went on to movie or television stardom after cutting their teeth on the show, including Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Billy Crystal, Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus,  Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Daily Show alumni Stephen Colbert and John Oliver each have their own shows, and Steve Carrel has had both television and movie hits. A lot of talented people have left each program, but that’s alright because the shows’ successes—and the achievements of their alumni—attract new generations of promising young people who want to come on board.


If you could foster that kind of talent at your firm, wouldn’t you try? Here are some tips—inspired by these legendary shows—on how I think you could make it happen.
  1. Add more cowbell. Who knew a cowbell could be so funny? But in one famous SNL sketch, Christopher Walken’s repeated insistence on “more cowbell” during a Blue Oyster Cult recording session—and cast member Will Ferrell’s cowbell playing—are hilarious. How does all that relate to CPA firms? It demonstrates that you never know when one inspired idea can lead to runaway success. That’s why it’s important to encourage staff to stretch themselves and to keep an eye open for possible enhancements to your practice or business opportunities. Institute an open door policy so that everyone knows you’re open to their suggestions and opinions.
  2. Talk amongst yourselves. That’s what Mike Myers’ talk show host, Linda Richman, told her guests and audience when she was all choked up and needed a moment. Encouraging collaboration while you take a backseat can be a boon for your practice. Offer your staff the chance to tap into their inner entrepreneur by creating cross-functional teams, developing challenges for them to innovate or improve on firm systems or processes. Make your firm an incubator for testing niche service areas and your practice will gain a reputation for forward-thinking and informed risk-taking.
  3. Give ‘em a trial run. Did you catch John Oliver on The Daily Show as he stood in for Jon Stewart this summer? It was apparent how much Stewart believed in Oliver’s abilities when he handed over the reins for several, critically acclaimed weeks. Could an emerging partner run your firm one summer while you dial it back for a stretch? Giving employees the opportunity to improve competencies and gain confidence is a great idea. Instead of fretting over the possibility of losing good people, think first about how you can turn them into professionals who will make a memorable contribution to your firm.

Give your staff a chance to shine or consider the alternative. If you limit their opportunities, will they stay with you? Not likely. Encouraging employees to take on new responsibilities and move into client-facing roles is good business. It will also offer the opportunity to see which promising candidates for promotion have real leadership talent, strengthening your succession strategies.

Like SNL and The Daily Show, your firm could become known as a cool place to work. You will also have built an alumni network of entrepreneurs and executives who are likely to refer business your way in the future. And what about succession? Jon Stewart is the face of The Daily Show, but there’s also a cast of funny and ambitious performers who could probably accomplish a good transition to the anchor desk. As a staffing model, it seems pretty sound. SNL has won 35 Emmys and The Daily Show has won 18.



October 29, 2013

LEAD

The Interview Question That Reveals a True Leader 

Is that executive right for your start-up? Here's how to tell.

 
 

Building a great leadership team is one of your most important jobs as CEO. But it can also be one of the hardest.

What makes it so hard is that you not only have to find a domain expert but a strong leader who inspires results far beyond your team's abilities. More confusing is the fact that most experienced domain experts are often terrible leaders, while great leaders often have resumes that won't make it past your screening process.

And today's hiring process doesn't make things easier. Sites like LinkedIn feature inflated resumes, making it hard to tell how much value the candidate brought his previous employer. Legal barriers prevent references from spilling the beans, forcing employers to read between the lines. Studies show that 30 to 40 percent of executive hires don't make it past the 18 month mark, which might feel like a failure to some CEOs given how painful it is to remove an executive.

So how can you find the right leader? Well, you can start by asking one simple question, "Tell me about the last person you fired." Of all the ways I interviewed executive candidates, this question and the discussion that followed proved to be the strongest indicator of the candidate's leadership ability.

If he says, "I haven't fired anyone," it's obvious this person's a bad fit. You can't build a great team without occasionally deconstructing and rebuilding it. And while every leader makes mistakes, if he can't admit, correct, or move on from them, you don't want him or her at your start-up.

If the candidate did fire someone, then find out how it happened. As the story unfolds you will learn something key: how well he or she communicates. If he says the candidate was surprised, find out why. More likely than not, he did a poor job of communicating where the employee stood, which is hard to do, but awfully necessary.

If he says the candidate wasn't surprised, let him walk you through the termination process. Great leaders are often like coaches, providing consistent and honest feedback. Do you find the candidate fits this description?

Be sure to find out why the employee didn't work out. Explore what mistakes were made in the hiring process and how they fixed those mistakes afterward. You want a self-reflective leader who is constantly evaluating himself as well as his processes.

Before the story is finished, ask one final question, "What did you do after they were let go?" This will show you their level of empathy. Average leaders tend to do the bare minimum, offering severance and a positive reference. But great leaders often do what they can to help the ex-employee get back on his feet. 

Pay attention to body language, as you want leaders who make quick decisions and follow through. At the same time you don't want a robot, so if he shows no emotion, think twice about hiring. That's not to say leading without emotion is a bad thing, but it certainly isn't for everyone.

Regardless of the process you use to build teams, you should spend as much time talking about what went wrong as well as the things that went right. Finding great leaders is incredibly hard, but if you find some, they will help your company experience incredible success.

 
IMAGE: SHUTTERSTOCK
LAST UPDATED: OCT 23, 2013
 

MARC BARROS is the co-founder and former CEO of Contour, a hands-free camera company. Shortly after graduating from the University of Washington, Marc co-founded Contour in 2004 and led the organization from a garage to a multi-million dollar company. Contour products were sold in over 40 countries through action sports retailers and national chains, including Best Buy and Apple.



October 07, 2013

Tutu Lawal - Interesting Quotes that will make you smile on a drizzly Monday afternoon.

"Eleven Hints for Life"

1. It hurts to love someone and not be loved in return.
But what is more painful is to love someone and never
find the courage to let that person know how you feel.


2. A sad thing in life is when you meet someone who
means a lot to you, only to find out in the end that it was
never meant to be and you just have to let go.

3. The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a
porch swing with, never say a word, and then walk away
feeling like it was the best conversation you've ever had.

4. It's true that we don't know what we've got until we lose
it, but it's also true that we don't know what we've been
missing until it arrives.

5. It takes only a minute to get a crush on someone, an
hour to like someone, and a day to love someone-but it
takes a lifetime to forget someone.

6. Don't go for looks, they can deceive. Don't go for wealth,
even that fades away. Go for someone who makes you
smile because it takes only a smile to make a dark day
seem bright.

7. Dream what you want to dream, go where you want to go,
be what you want to be. Because you have only one life and
one chance to do all the things you want to do.

8. Always put yourself in the other's shoes. If you feel that it
hurts you, it probably hurts the person too.

9. A careless word may kindle strife. A cruel word may wreck
a life. A timely word may level stress. But a loving word may
heal and bless.

10. The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best
of everything they just make the most of everything that comes
along their way.

11. Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss, ends with
a tear. When you were born, you were crying and everyone
around you was smiling. Live your life so that when you die,
you're the one smiling and everyone around you is crying.


September 27, 2013

 

Click on the link below to see the exceptional company defying gravity. This is an extremely cool video worth watching and provided curtesy of Deloitte. Innovation is definitely one of the keys to corporate creativity and longevity!!

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid2632427754001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAsVluimE~,NGi8PKtOOMnewuzipuZBRyxSH6HcmiEY&bclid=0&bctid=2652231150001

September 23, 2013

Our society was built on the concept of creating a comfortable life, but that concept is now failing. Why getting uncomfortable is the only way to reach your full business potential.
 
Most people never get where they want to be in their life, their career and their finances because they stop at places that appear to be comfortable.
SEPTEMBER 20, 2013 

Getting comfortable has proven to be the greatest threat to me in my life, my career and with my money. Each time I've started to settle into some comfortable status in my business or even my personal life, I've been spanked into reality, recognizing that it's always best to continue to push myself to new levels.

I believe that most people never get where they want to be in their life, their career and their finances because they stop at places that appear to be comfortable. I hear so many people express this idea of being comfortable in their lives by saying things like "We have enough," "I make enough to get by," "I haven't saved a lot, but I'm comfortable," or "I haven't fulfilled my dreams, but I've done better than most."

I've said each of these things in periods of my life when I was getting comfortable and trying to make sense of where I was rather than where I could go.

Don't Stop When You've Had Enough

Settling is about getting comfortable. Being satisfied is about making sense of where you are rather than your potential. I'm not sure why so many people settle, but most do. Almost everyone I've ever worked with quickly admits they're capable of doing much more. "I could do more, but I'm comfortable," I hear way too often.

It's common to be afraid to try new things, approach new people, find new customers, move to a new city for better opportunities, search for a new business opportunity or learn a new skill. But the world we live in today demands that we continue to push ourselves beyond our comfort levels. If I learned one lesson from the 2008 economic collapse, it's that no matter how much success you have, it can be taken from you sooner than you think.

The survivors in business refuse to settle for "comfortable" and are always reinventing themselves, pushing the edges, trying new things, making new investments and swinging for the fences. The survivors are always attacking the market for new clients and new territory—they're never satisfied with the status quo. These are the companies and executive teams I love working with.

Trying To Get Uncomfortable

After this last recession, I made a commitment to do everything to stay uncomfortable—yes, un-comfortable. I'm always seeking out new challenges and new problems. When I stay uncomfortable, my business grows. For instance, every week we make a list of new people we've never done business with and make contact. This is an exercise in being uncomfortable.

Last year I moved my business and my family across the country from Los Angeles to Miami Beach. I had lived in California for more than 20 years, so yes, I was comfortable and thought this move would be a great way to stretch myself and my business. This move expanded my personal life, my marriage and my company. It forced us all to make new friends and new contacts.

And not only did I move my family and make them uncomfortable, I convinced my staff to relocate with me. This bonded us in even more meaningful ways as we faced new and different challenges.

If you don't have new problems, you're getting comfortable, which can lead to boredom. New, bigger problems will keep you creating, sharp and expanding.

Take an honest look at your business, your life and your finances, and ask yourself, "Am I pushing myself to new levels every day, or am I just comfortable?" Look for areas where you've become comfortable or might be settling for less than you can really do.

If you're still not sure how to break out of your comfort zone, these four simple changes can push you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable:

1. Don't see time as an obstacle. "I don't have enough time" has to be one of the great lies people tell themselves. Every time I say, “I don't have enough time,” I add something to my calendar. Learn how to create time by forcing yourself to take on more.

2. Meet new people every day. We all have this discomfort with meeting new people. The moment I commit to introducing myself to five people I don't know, I find I become more expressive, confident and creative.

3. Write down your fears, then go confront them. I don't care what comes up on the list. Get it handled by confronting the little beast, and do what you can to get over the fear.

4. Take on a new role at your company for a few hours so you can experience what others have to do on a daily basis. You might want your employees to take on this task as well. It can be very revealing for all employees, especially executives.

The American middle class was built on the concept of creating a comfortable life. But that concept is now failing. Most Americans feel they don't have enough income, savings or time to do the things they truly want to do.

Those doing best in this country are those who refuse to settle with being comfortable. They push for freedom instead. Seek a life of freedom, not a life of comfort, and you'll see how truly far you can go.

Read more articles on leadership.

Photos: Getty Images

 


September 23, 2013

You devote yourself to work--sometimes at the expense of everything else. Answering these questions can help you stay balanced.
SEPTEMBER 20, 2013 

The life of an entrepreneur is hard. It demands your time and energy, and it often torpedoes relationships and other aspects of your life outside of work. It pulls you in so many directions at once that it's hard to find a clear path.

But you can help yourself stay focused and balanced if you begin each day by answering seven simple questions. And while there's no guarantee it will make your life any easier, it will certainly help make being an entrepreneur less complicated and more focused on the things that matter.

If you're ready, let's get started.

1. Why am I doing this? Start each day by reminding yourself why you opted to go into business for yourself instead of working a steady 9-to-5 with insurance and a regular paycheck. What specific values does your life and lifestyle serve? Create a personal mission statement you can refer to every day, to remind yourself why you opted for this less-traveled and obstacle-ridden road. It will ease the pain every time something goes wrong.

2. Which exercise routine have I scheduled? Thirty minutes of light-to-moderate exercise means two hours of extra productivity throughout an eight-hour workday. Get into the gym, onto your bike or on the floor for push-ups. Working out pays off in the short term with greater productivity and in the long term with better health. The total benefit: You'll get more accomplished each day, and you'll have more days of accomplishment.

3. What will I learn today? A day you haven't learned something is a day you've wasted, and entrepreneurs can't afford to waste any time. Some days, the answer to this question will be obvious because you'll attend a meeting or an event with the purpose of learning something new. Other days, you'll need to download a podcast or pick up a book or magazine. However you get the new information, taking it in needs to be part of your daily routine.

4. Where are my tools? It's estimated that executives lose as much as six weeks of each year looking for the things they need to accomplish their work. Start the day knowing where your essential tools are—from your car keys to that file on your hard drive. That way, once you begin working in earnest, you never have to interrupt what you're doing to go searching for the thing you need to complete your task.

5. How will I connect with my family today? This is the flip side of the number-one complaint among executives and entrepreneurs—that they don't have enough time and engagement with their family. Each morning, commit to some sort of meaningful connection with your spouse, children and close friends. On slow work days, this might be a dinner out or an evening in. Other days, it might just mean texting your wife a picture of her favorite flower or taking 10 minutes to read to the kids before they go to sleep and you get back to work.

6. What one accomplishment will help me sleep better tonight? This is another way to identify your key tasks for the day. Figure out the one thing you absolutely must accomplish before leaving work, and then exclude all projects you can reasonably put aside until you've finished. Once that key project is done, you can give time and energy to less urgent projects.

7. What must I do to set myself up for success tomorrow? Of all the questions on this list, this one ranks worst on the attention-given-compared-to-importance scale. Entrepreneurial days are so full of urgent tasks, it's easy to forget about all the urgent tasks you have to do tomorrow—but devoting 15 to 30 minutes to setting up your next day can pay off big in productivity.

Readers, what are your answers to these questions? Share in the comments below to join the conversation and get support from people in the same boat as you.

Jason Brick has contributed more than 2,000 blog and magazine articles to local, regional and national publications and speaks regularly at writing and business conferences. You can find out more about Jason at www.brickcommajason.com.

Read more articles on productivity.

Photo: Getty Images