3 Things to Do to Get a Jump on 2020

2019 has flown by and we’re quickly approaching 20/20. Even though the holidays are here and our minds may be on time off and events with friends and family, this is also a great time of year to assess what worked and what didn't. Many of the people you do business with will be out of touch causing some frustrating log jams. If you find yourself in a place in your business where you can't get a whole lot done, you can use the time to start making plans for the future.

This isn't a trends article or things you need to think about for 2020. This article is aimed at getting you professionally in shape for the challenges ahead. So let's take a look at the things you can change today in order to have a more successful year ahead.

Becoming a More Skilled Competitor

Do you have fitness goals for the new year?

If you’re like most people, you do. The new year often brings about thoughts of getting healthier. But it's also time to consider how in shape you are personally as a competitor in your business. What can you do to become leaner and more fit to compete from a business perspective? It's time to make healthy decisions in your professional life. Here are a few suggestions:

Shift to More Needed, “Skilled” Work

Skilled” work are those things that only a few of your competitors can do. “Unskilled” work, for the purposes of this article, refers to things anyone can do.

While people need unskilled offerings, they don't command much money. So if your business is built this way, based on things a lot of companies can do, you'll have a hard time commanding top dollar for your services. However, if there's something that you and your business offer that others can't or won't, you can charge a lot higher rate.

As a prelude to 2020, think about whether you want to be working more or less for the same amount of money. If you offer unskilled services you may have a lot of work. But you also have to accept a lot more jobs to make what you would offering services that fewer companies do.

Think about what services you can offer that others don't. You'll find that if you can offer something that others don't (or won't), you can name your price and work fewer jobs because you provide something few do.

Get a Handle on Your Productivity

Becoming more productive can be quite an undertaking. But if you break it down into the basic steps you need to stop killing time and start taking full advantage of the time you do have.

Reduce Wasted Time

To eliminate wasted time, you need to get a good look at how you spend your day. For one day record everything you do as if you were billing a client. Every minute must be accounted for. So if you spend five minutes watching a cat video on YouTube, for instance, write that down. At the end of the day you'll be able to see exactly where your biggest time sucks are.

Next, go down your list of how you spent your day and label everything either “OG” for on goal or AG for anti-goal. All the OG designations should be business worthy uses of your time. For example, if you are on social media and you were connecting with a potential customer that's an OG use of your time. However, if you are on social media trying to figure out what you're eating for dinner tonight that's an AG use of your time from a business perspective.

Now that you know how you spend your day, you can eliminate drains on your time that don't bring you closer to your business or professional goals. Hopefully, being more aware of them means the next time you're doing one of those AG activities you will stop yourself as it's not contributing to your professional or business development.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't take breaks. But you should be aware of when you're on break versus when you're on task. If you want to take a break for five minutes and look at non-work social media that's fine. But if you're sitting down to strengthen your presence on social media for your business, you shouldn't be watching cute baby videos, unless you plan to share them with your audience.

Make Better Use of Your Time

After you know what your time drains are, it's important to get a handle on the time you do have. That means setting goals and tasks for each day. How you do this is a personal preference.

Some people like to sit down every Sunday night and chart out their week. Other people prefer to do it on a day-by-day basis.

You also don't have to have complete silence and a closed-door to figure out what you have to get done each week. Instead, look for stolen moment time that you can use. For instance, if you prefer to wind down every night in front of the television, there is no reason why you can't also look at your calendar and create a to-do list. Maybe you find yourself at one of your children's games every weekend or chaufferring them to a birthday party, playdate, or to hang out with their friends. Chauffeur time is an excellent time to plan ahead.

There are a lot of apps that can help you manage your time and give insights into your calendar. If you choose to keep your calendar electronically you also have the benefit of having the information you need with you wherever you are. So when you have that spare moment you can do a little planning. You can also use a to-do list app that helps keep you on track. If you take the time to chart your day and then leave your to-do list at home, that's not very productive. But if your to-do list is portable you can turn to it whenever you have a spare moment.

Touch Base with Staff

When things are busy it's easy for us to ignore our hard workers. We don't hear from them and we assume they're fine. This is not always the case.

Make it a point to speak with your staff members. Find out if they have any challenges that you can help with. Make sure they have what they need to do their jobs efficiently. Also, find out what they're passionate about and what they want to do in the future. Knowing what they like best about their job and understanding their future plans give you the opportunity to make them happier at work. For instance, if you find out a member of your team loves to write, you may have a new blog writer. Or maybe there's someone on staff who loves taking pictures. Now you have the opportunity to add some really amazing images to your blog and website. You've given them job responsibilities they're passionate about and you also get something in return.

With 20/20 quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to start getting in shape professionally. Look for ways to become more productive, to stand out in the marketplace, and to touch base with the people who make up your business. Doing these things will put you in a much more successful place in the new year.

Christina R. Green teaches small businesses and chambers of commerce how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com. Christina is an introverted writer on a quest to eradicate boring copy and bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere