Are you concerned that you aren’t utilising your potential? Do you let your poor habits slow down your chance to grow your business or improve your life balance? These tips and techniques will help you to make some relatively easy changes to massively improve the way you utilise your potential in everything you do.
So why would you want to make these changes? Making better use of your talents and resources will bring rich benefits to you and your community because wasted potential doesn’t just impact you. Wasted potential also means that you contribute less than you are able to everyone you come in contact with – your family, your friends, your customers and your wider community. When you don’t utilise your potential you are reducing your ability to improve your offering to everyone.
You will also be able to grab more opportunities to develop your business or to achieve the goals you have set for yourself when you manage yourself in a more positive way. So, whether you wish you had more hours in the day, more energy to create or a better handle on what goes on in your life every day take the time to check out how to change your poor habits so you can massively improve the way you utilise your potential.
Where should you begin?
You need to start with your brain. That’s because it controls all your habits and is the boss of changing habits and you can’t make changes without managing that control. Your brain takes everything you focus on repeatedly and turns it into a habit which is controlled in the limbic system. Your brain can then pretty much let the habit roll without much processing effort.
But if you want to change a poor habit so you can utilise your potential better then you will be using the prefrontal cortex which is involved in higher level learning and also in planning and that requires the brain to do a lot more processing. For that reason it’s easy to see why the brain would prefer you just stayed put doing things in the same old way. So you are going to need some techniques to overcome your poor habits and turn them into great ones instead.
Issues and trigger points
The first technique involves working out the issues and triggers which encourage you to indulge in your poor habits – whatever they are. Most of us can get lost in distractions because when we hear signals (those audible notifications that you have an email, text or someone reacted to your social media post) it triggers us to go straight to the source and check out who is communicating with us.
So, to utilise your potential you need to recognise what triggers cause you to adopt a poor habit or what work issues lead to wasted time and energy. And once you recognise them you can work out how you will defeat these issues and triggers and develop great habits.
These issues can include an overabundance of meetings with no real agendas – including those ones where someone suggests you meet for coffee but doesn’t have a clear idea of what you will be talking about. Or tasks that make you feel like you are super busy but they aren’t actually achieving sales or serving your customers well.
Whatever causes you to be distracted, to procrastinate or to waste your potential you need to understand what is happening and to defeat them for once and for all.
Now don’t think that I am saying that you shouldn’t have times when you are happily distracted but to utilise your potential you need to make sure that these times are in your time off not your dedicated time on.
Have you tried rituals and visual clues?
Overcoming or changing a poor habit to a great habit is made much easier when you use tricks that remind your brain what the new great habit is that you want to focus on. So rituals and visual clues are very useful. You may be wondering what I mean here.
Have you ever decided to start a new habit – maybe doing a new form of exercise or eating differently? At first you are tightly focused but gradually you realise that you completely forgot to buy the right food or you forgot to go to the class. No matter what you are trying to change it is easy to mess it up.
It would be harder to let things slip if you had visual reminders of what you want to focus on – for example pictures on the fridge of the meals you want to now be eating or your exercise clothes lying at the front door so you can’t miss them. Whatever works for you is fine and it will massively improve the way you utilise your potential.
In a business context putting up screen savers that remind you of your new habit or setting notifications on your phone will help. And it will allow you to be gently nudged into doing those tasks that you know you need to do.
Rituals are great for getting started especially if the task is a big one and you are struggling to begin. Having a routine or ritual which tells your brain that you are ready to tackle the big jobs is really useful. And it can be anything that makes sense to you and makes starting more of a pleasure.
You may also find having a finishing ritual at the end of the day is helpful especially if you are working from home. By concluding the working day and moving into relaxing time you will be creating more balance in your life and ensuring that work isn’t always right there and that will utilise your potential to be a happier person.
Another way to improve your habits to utilise your potential is to ensure that you maintain high energy levels by maintaining your motivation. Giving yourself regular small rewards is a great way to build motivation.
We often think that we need to be motivated to get started but actually motivation develops as we start achieving the action steps we set for ourselves. So when you complete a step it is important to acknowledge it with a reward so your brain is encouraged to keep looking for more opportunities to be motivated.
Rewards shouldn’t be those triggers and issues you discovered earlier like taking a coffee break in a local café that just happens to take at least an hour out of your working day. Or 10 minutes on social media if you know it is likely to turn into 30 minutes.
A reward could be a short walk or run in the fresh air or anything you know will make you feel great about achieving a step and encourage you to get on with the next one. Just make sure that you plan for plenty of them and don’t think you need to wait until you finish something monumental before rewarding yourself – that’s just too hard.
Focus on what’s important
One of the best ways to utilise your potential is to use your time wisely. You cannot create more time in the day but you can do a better job of using the time you have if you focus on what really matters to you.
Say you really want to see your child’s game or lesson or maybe you want to have time to play golf with friends. If it really matters to you then you can fit it in by adjusting your schedule. But if you haven’t considered what really matters to you then many of these important opportunities to have more balance is your life will be wasted.
You see, time management is simply using the available time to achieve your priorities. And people who achieve more with their lives and utilise their potential are people who understand their priorities and schedule their time to maximise the achievement of their priorities.
And it’s important here to recognise that allowing other people to interrupt your work time or your family time is letting them schedule their priorities over yours. Sometimes you can’t avoid it but other times it is just a habit of not focusing on what really matters to you.
So, concentrate on what it is that you really want to achieve and then don’t let yourself be persuaded from achieving it or distracted by interruptions which you have control over.
Make starting easier
Have you ever found yourself doing meaningless tasks and just finding it ridiculously difficult to get started on what you really need to be doing? If that’s a problem for you then check out these ideas for making it easier to get started.
Leaving your workspace clear at the end of the day, leaving any materials you need ready and waiting or planning your day before you start it are some of the ways you can make it just a tiny bit easier to get started.
And if you want to overcome the hurdle of being challenged by a big job then make it easier to get underway by breaking it down into a bunch of smaller tasks rather than putting barriers in place which make it possible to be distracted.
Getting started just a bit earlier and diving straight into your most important tasks are two ways that you can utilise your potential better and small, regular improvements will lead to much greater productivity over time.
Learn to use schedules
This is hard for me to write because I have always been a great list writer and a great one for crossing things off lists. However, research has shown that you will utilise your potential much more from scheduling time rather than working through a list. Even lists that are graded into A, B, C or 1, 2, 3 etc don’t work as well as scheduling or setting up set times to do the tasks both inside and outside your business.
You know how you never miss appointments or meetings because they are set up in your diary; well putting all your priority tasks into your diary will ensure you don’t miss those either.
If you decide it is a priority to communicate with your customers then having time scheduled every day to do it means you are much more likely to actually achieve it. On the other hand if you just put it on a list then will you put it on the list again every day and how will you ensure you are available to do it at the best time for the customers? Chances are that you will stop putting it on the list because you already know you need to do that and suddenly a week has gone by with no customer communication led by you.
Some people schedule their non-business time too so they make sure that they get the right balance of time for everything they want to do. How far you go is up to you but when you want to utilise your potential then having something useful to do when waiting for others or to use those smaller slots of time is great.
I have found that I can achieve so much more in a week and I don’t overlook or avoid difficult tasks now that I schedule rather than have a To Do list. You may find it makes a huge difference to you too.
Now this is a big one, a really, really big one, that we all have to struggle with at times. Whether it’s the notifications on our computer or the noises our phones make to divert our attention it is easy to be tempted to just check what that email or message is. And just checking our social media for a few minutes is incredibly dangerous when we have important tasks to finish.
So how can you overcome these diabolical threats to your potential? Silencing devices, changing settings or physically removing them from the work space are all ways of stopping them from distracting you or tempting you just to have a quick look.
But perhaps you will be more successful if you schedule distraction times and give yourself permission to goof off at times just like you are scheduling time for achieving the things that really matter to you. Rather than saying you need to overcome distractions instead you can utilise your potential by fitting distractions into your day when it suits you to be distracted.
Make the time count
When you are preparing your schedule you need to make sure that your most productive time – the time when your energy is greatest – is used to complete the most important priority task of the day. Brian Tracy in his book “Eat That Frog” refers to the frog as being the most important task of the day but probably the one you are most likely to procrastinate over.
By eating that frog or completing that most important task you set yourself apart from all the other business people who are crossing tasks off lists and putting off the difficult ones because achieving lots of little tasks feels more satisfying.
What making the time count will develop in you is a bias toward action and achievement. Your focus will improve and your concentration will be stronger. Within a fairly short period of time you will be utilising your potential and your business will be thriving.
You are not going to ever be given more time so use your most productive hours to achieve the most important work that you need to do today and then repeat this tomorrow and so on.
I hope you have found these ideas useful and I hope they are challenging because all progress takes place outside of the comfort zone. You now have some techniques and tips for utilising your potential – please use them and ensure that you become the best that you can be.
The Biz Coach NZ