Stephen Walker sympathises with the providers in the training sector struggling with the challenging business conditions. Here he gives his top ten tips for keeping focused, optimistic and motivated.
There is no doubt that business conditions in the training sector are tough today. Business is there to be won but it is taking a lot more time and effort to win those sales. Often we see trainers faced with clients demanding cuts in fees. Clearly 'doing more with less' has to be a way of life, not a temporary fillip. All in all, life is tough in our sector.
I thought it would be useful to pull together some tips on how to stay focused, motivated and enthusiastic.
To-do lists are great
Most of us get pleasure from a task completed, whether it is the washing up or a business report. Some people can use those onscreen to-do lists and they are effective. But for me there is something powerful about ticking a completed box with a pen. You can see your progress through the day, you can feel it, it is physical (Virtual tick boxes are not the same).
Set yourself a sub-target
This works well with the first tip. Say to get three of today's ten things to-do, completed by 11am. When you succeed plan yourself a little treat, a small reward. Nothing major but a move away from your place of work to do something different, have a coffee, phone that friend, think about that special person's birthday present.
Some jobs are just too big
Imagine sitting down to write a book. Break these big jobs into smaller tasks. Write a chapter at a time - you will probably even want to break that chapter down into sections. If the nature of your day is that you have 30-minute blocks or four hour blocks break the big job into tasks that fit the available time more or less.
Share your "want to dos"
In work there is an implied list of things we are paid to do. If there is something big, tell your boss you want to concentrate on that for a while. Share your tasks with your life partner, a friend, a coach or a mentor. Make sure whoever you share your "want to-dos" with will congratulate you when you succeed.
Have as much of a routine as you can
Most of us have routine things in our lives whether it is washing up or checking activity completions. Make them something you do at a certain time automatically. That way they disappear as a task and merge into the background of your life.
Have a dream - a big dream for a goal
If you have set yourself a demanding set of tasks to achieve something difficult, imagine the end result. The task in front of you might be petty and trivial but its completion takes you a step nearer that amazing dream.
Get better at the things you do routinely
If you are fed up at the thought of posting all those account transactions then get better at it. Experiment with different ways of doing the work. Innovate; perhaps there is a better IT solution. Above all, evolve a better way. That two-hour task may still be boring but if you can do it in an hour so much the better.
Make a game of it
The best way for me to do things I don't like is to challenge myself. Can I do it in three hours and not four? Can I write 1000 words and not 800? Can I make 15 sales calls and not 10? Within your tasks make little stretch targets: 10 calls today, 11 tomorrow, 12... and so on.
Learn something new every day
Read books, go to seminars, listen to sales people and use their ideas, make use of the information available on the web. Not only will you find new ways to do old tasks, you will start thinking about what you could learn that would make your tasks easier to do. In this way you are thinking about how to better perform the task (which should be interesting) instead of just doing the task.
Get someone else to do the tasks you don't want to; Anyone from a virtual assistant to an interim executive can be brought in to do the boring tasks for you. The more successful you are the more you can delegate the things you don't want to do, to someone else. Wouldn't we all like to just do what we enjoy? So the first step is...write a to-do list!
Have you registered for our free webinar? 'The Challenge and the Opportunity for Learning Professionals' takes place on 5 May and is hosted by Donald Taylor, chairman of the IITT and speaker at TZ Live.
Register for it here.
Stephen Walker has over 30 years of hands-on business and academic experience. He is the founder of Motivation Matters, a management consultancy focused on changing behaviour at work to inspire achievement. You can follow Stephen on Twitter and Facebook