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As business leaders, we’re often faced with the difficult and overwhelming task of deciphering exactly what leadership strategies and practices are most effective. Besides just being an expert in your respective field, you have to be responsible for overseeing the business and team.
Creating bookends in life means establishing a routine that supports each side of your day, but what exactly does this look like in business settings? Bookending in business is a simple yet highly effective technique leaders can use to support productivity and create meaningful success in their roles.
While some entrepreneurs may be familiar with the concept of bookending, the vast majority do not realize just how valuable it is. By implementing even a few strategies into their workday, entrepreneurs and startup founders can level up their leadership skills and stay on top of business priorities.
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Make your mindset work for (not against) you
It all starts with your mindset. Your ability to adopt the right mindset indicates how productive you will be and implore your team to be. For me, the ideal mindset encompasses a positive approach, accountability and transparency. Ideally, these tenets are a preface for working towards a desired outcome. This is especially important in situations where you are responsible for making difficult decisions, and there are circumstances beyond your control.
For you, this could mean continuous self-improvement, learning from your mistakes, adapting your business or attempting to master new skills. For example, you may be unable to control the fact that you must have an uncomfortable conversation later that day or tomorrow. However, by controlling your mindset going into the meeting, you are contributing to the overall productivity of it. This practice allows you to hone in on your priorities and avoid getting sidetracked.
Having the right mindset is part of the blueprint for productivity in business and can lead to exponential shifts in outcomes. In other words, consistency is key, allowing you to seize new opportunities. The next part is ensuring that you set clear goals.
Related: 6 Tips for Goal-Setting That, Trust Me, They Don’t Teach You in College
A roadmap to leading with intention and goal setting
Now that you’ve prefaced your ‘routine’ with the right mindset, setting intentions and clear, measurable goals will help you stay on track. There are a few ways to put this into practice, but generally, this means outlining a roadmap for achieving desired outcomes to maximize productivity throughout each interaction, initiative or project.
Take, for instance, networking as a goal. You can go into events or conversations by reframing the outlook of networking as solely transactional. Instead, consider what an engagement or experience may afford and align your expectations accordingly. In doing so, compartmentalizing short-term or immediate actions based on how they tie into long-term goals will ensure you make the best decisions.
Related: Effective Networking: The Difference Between Access, Opportunity and Being a Part of the Noise
It’s also important to note that goals should be realistic and achievable for where you are. As I mentioned, a mindset of accountability and transparency is at the start. Without it, you run the risk of making misaligned decisions. While some goals may be achieved faster than others, it does not mean they are less valuable to the overarching business picture. Remember, you already have a strong sense of judgment, so trust your instincts and consider the goals as a guide.
Reflect on the results
Reflecting on your results ensures productivity. Allowing time for daily reflection will create new insights that drive new behaviors, decisions and outcomes. Part of reflecting is assessing what worked and what didn’t, essentially establishing the ‘bookend’ of your day. This will allow you to create a clean slate for maximizing your time and efforts the next day.
Ask important questions and consider how your goals compare to the outcomes. Reflect on each relevant action that day and ensure they return to an intention. Understanding that not everything will go as planned, be prepared to pivot directions and evolve your goals as necessary. When this happens, it is always valuable to bookend with reflection as a means of reverting back to the necessary mindset.
Practicing self-reflection is an ongoing task. However, in doing so, you will hone in on your strategic thinking skills, improve your levels of self-awareness and improve the quality of your relationships with investors and your team, all of which are invaluable. This is all to say: lead by example and frequently check in with yourself.
Establishing your mindset and reflecting on performance are the bookends of productivity. Your ability to create efficiencies and execute on goals will set yourself, your team and your business up for success. While it takes time and effort, the work that really matters is mastering the techniques you are using to ensure each day is as productive as the last. Focus on the bookends, and the right decisions will come in between.