This Tuesday I was invited to Moderata Studenter Göteborg (a political student organization for one of the biggest political parties in Sweden) as a guest speaker to talk about my experiences about running a business while simultaneously studying full time.

In the talk, I highlighted planning and prioritization more than anything else, two things which are key to making both weeks and life in general work well.

Many thanks to Moderata Studenter for having me there and thanks for a great evening.

mst-goteborg

What sets truly productive people apart from their counterparts is not working more, it is working smarter. In this post, I want to highlight the difference a simple list can make on your productivity.

If you are anything like me, you have a lot of “dead time” in your schedule. Ten minutes waiting here, five minutes there or maybe even a 15 minute block when waiting for someone. How you spend these, seemingly utterly unproductive short blocks of time, can make a world of difference.

Five minutes isn’t that short. You have more time than you think to get some small task done, which you then don’t have to do later. Don’t feel pressure to complete everything though. Even if it is just one email, or a quick phone call, you will have reduced the time required to tackle this later on, freeing up time for something better and more enjoyable.

What can you do in these short blocks of time? The most obvious is get some email done, but other useful things include reading, communication in general (social media, phone calls and of course email), writing a blog post, networking (check in with friends or connections), do some project planning, take a walk (refresh your head) or start doing some research.

Of course, doing work in these small blocks of time is not always the best things. Note that taking a walk was on my list of things to do. It is important to take breaks and to refresh and enjoy yourself. Without energy, you are going nowhere.

The key to being able to do either of these items though is having a list of what to do. When you find yourself having an extra five minutes, you need to be able to pull out the list and tackle an item. If you need to think about how you might best spend your time, you have used it before you have your answer. Just pull out the list, start with an item and you’ll be surprised at how much more you get done during the day, without working many more hours.

predictably-irrational

I think I have recommended these two books before when they come out on this very blog, but I’m repeating the recommendation today mainly as a heads up to fellow classmates in my Microeconomics course. Our course focuses heavily on the rational consumer, and I think these two books does a very good job at showing the irrationality of the human and at the same time, giving a good insight to both economics in general and behavioral economics.

The books are both by Dan Ariely and (to be read in order according to me) are titled, Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality.

Predictably Irrational focuses more on describing the irrationality of humans, learning how it affects our lives while The Upside of Irrationality takes the focus on showing how we can benefit from the irrationality.

elegance

Reading the title of this post, I am certain most of you think that this must be some kind of utopia. Maybe so, but sometimes I get the feeling that this is just what happens—and it is not a recipe for success.

At the Gothenburg School of Economics, Business and Law (part of the University of Gothenburg), we have a student union. Part of this student union, or at least in many ways related to it, are a plethora of student companies. Everything from management consulting through accounting to marketing is covered. I won’t go into detail what I think about many of these companies because that’s beside the point here, but looking at them from a distance, it seems that many of them are started just for the purpose above: For some students to get a fancy job title to put on their resumé.

Unsurprisingly, many of these companies are rather small. Yet they still manage to have a CEO, COO, CFO and a range of managers. Doesn’t it beg the question whom is being managed by all these managers?

The quick thinker amongst you may remark that I personally refer to my title as “Managing Director” in my company. Leaving aside for the moment that it is technically correct, it may seem a bit pretentious. The reason I do, is because when the company keeps growing, it definitely refers to what I am as well.

Every company has an MD (or CEO etc—just pick a naming scheme). Every small company does not have room for all other managers, whose roles seem to be just made up to make the title look nice. In the end, just having had a fancy job title doesn’t make you a candidate for the same jobs. I am certain nobody would hire me based on having experience as “Managing Director” in my own company. It’s the qualifications and what you do that matters.

Think about it before just creating a fancy job title to make it look good on your resumé. Even in the business world, what you actually do speaks much lounder than any title ever will. Pretentious job titles works against you as customers and other stakeholders see right through them.

In all organizations, in all hierarchical levels, communication seems to be a problem. Let’s leave aside the marketing for a while and focus just on person-to-person interaction and that type of communication.

What I notice time and time again, whether listening to freelancers complain about stupid clients, talking to salespeople in other organizations or trying to get questions answered by people in customer service oriented roles, is the lack of understanding for the other party.

Communication is what the listener does.
Peter Drucker

The above quote has struck a chord with me. I think Peter Drucker has put it perfectly. There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding by many people that, as long as they communicate in their way of clear perception, they are fine. If the other person doesn’t understand, that’s their problem.

Wrong. Being good at communication is something that requires care and diligence. It requires you to put yourself into not just the other persons shoes, but body and mind. You need to pick up the subtle signals and see the full picture before replying.

Doing so has immense benefits. People will think the world of you as misunderstandings are reduced and a greater efficiency is reached for everyone. It also happens to be very easy and does not take much longer either. It is simply a matter of changing the mindset and seeing the situation from the other persons point of view. Because frankly, what good is your message if the listener/receiver doesn’t understand it?

Ultimately, it boils down to one simple thing: You must not see the person you are communicating with as a problem.