Women are making waves these days, and not before time! There is an old saying, ‘to be considered half as good as a man, women have to work twice as hard.’ I don’t subscribe to encouraging women to working twice as hard, I subscribe to working smarter! However, a positive and professional outlook and mindset is incredibly important, as are ways of maintaining your professional approach.
What does ‘maintaining a professional approach’ really mean though? Here are a few hacks designed to give you that competitive advantage.
Hack #1: Dress for Success
I rarely talk or write about personal styling or fashion. I leave that to the experts like Melissa Lewis from Style Confidante. However, Melissa would be the first person to tell you that dressing for success is key factor in establishing your professional leadership brand. You have one chance to make a great first impression, and as much as I’d like it to be about your talent, the way your portray yourself can positively impact your career or business.
There is, literally, no one size fits all when it comes to dressing for business. Getting great advice about what style works for you and the environment that you work is hack number 1.
Hack #2: No Woman is an Island!
I know that it can get pretty lonely in the world of business, especially when you are working as one of a few women in the team or as a solopreneur. So businesswoman hack number 2 is all about keeping the dialogue going with your colleagues or your circle of supporters.
Getting outside of your own head, having some discussions about something other than the business or the task at hand, is a great way to break the loneliness and feelings of isolation. Why not use technology like Slack channels, Facebook groups, to connect with like-minded business women? Use free software like Skype or Zoom to have some face to face time with friends, collaborators or clients?
Hack #3: Remove Distractions
‘Michelle is easily distracted’ was on my school report, a lot! And nothing much has changed! The enemy of my businesswoman mindset are the many distractions the generally lie right in front of my eyes and hands! The best thing I can do to get in the zone and be productive to remove as many of these distractions as possible. Making sure I turn off all notifications on my iPhone and MacBook, wearing headphones if I am in a noisy environment and the best hack of all? Shut down my email!
In the office (when I was in the world of corporate) one of the worst time wasters was the dreaded myriad of meetings. One of the best businesswoman hacks is to limit meetings (where no work gets done!) to less than 50% of my week. I did this by really questioning the purpose of the meeting, whether I was really required to be there and if I could, delegating to members of my team. If you’ve ever said “I’m back to back all day with meetings” then you need to take control of your calendar, now!
Hack #4: A Productive Professional
I’m all about choices. One of the choices I make is to work when I know I am at my best and most productive. As an early riser, I know that I can get more task-related work done in the early hours than at any other time (fewer distractions!) So businesswoman hack number 4 is to work out when, where and how you are at your most productive.
There are a number of ways you can achieve this, and it’s all about the decisions you make. Like me, you can choose to get up earlier and start your work sooner to get a productivity boost for the day. You can also look at the working environment and equipment you’re using and do what you can to try to make it better. Getting a faster laptop allows you to work better, along with ergonomic keyboard trays which will help reduce the strain on your body. Consider the height of your desk and chair because comfort and productivity are linked very closely.
Hack #5: Managing Your Mindset
How do I stay motivated? The truth is that I am not always in the zone, in ‘hustle mode’ or as productive as I’d like to be. The tools that I use to continually push myself, is to build regular self-assessments int my week. Stop, breathe, think is one of the calendar reminders I have on repeat. When I am distracted, not pushing myself, or feeling low on motivation its time for a timeout. A walk in the fresh air, a mindfulness meditation or a reflective exercise to refocus on my ‘why’ is a great way to get back into the zone. I’ve learned that pushing through doesn’t always work, sometimes a circuit breaker is the key to shifting your mindset.
Hack #6: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Aren’t we our own worst enemies sometimes? I am terrible at asking for help! So I feel slightly like a fraud giving this bit of advice. I have an extremely strong streak of independence, but I am learning that this shouldn’t mean I can’t ask for help. As I said in hack #2, No woman is an island and I have to be better asking for help to make sure my business has the impact I want it to have.
Hack #7: Be Active Where Possible
I have four key priorities that I ‘audit‘ every single week. And being active is one of them. (the other three are sleep, nourishment and my relationship) Being active can be massively overlooked by women in our quest to juggle all the balls in the air. A healthy body and mind is essential for business success, no secret to that. But how do you fit it in? I wear an Apple Watch with daily move, steps, standing & heart rate goals. It gives me regular notifications when I need to stand up, when I am closer to achieving my goals and how many steps I have done. I love it!
What are your hacks to help women in business? I’d love to hear them. in the meantime, assess where your opportunities are, what you can do about it and then hack your way to success! Good luck.