Despite the recent load shedding that has left many of us frustrated and battling in our businesses, for the most part we live in a world that is “always on”. We carry our emails, bank accounts and social media marketing campaigns in the palm of our hand, they’re in the car when we travel and next to our beds when we sleep. As entrepreneurs we feel the need to be available at all times – to answer questions, respond to leads and secure the next sale. It can be exhausting and the risk is that as we become so entrenched in the business of routine-responding the we fail to give ourselves the space to reflect on business-as-usual and refine our processes for incrementally greater results.

Most of us know Novak Djokovic as one of the best tennis players of all times. In 2004 he earned only about $250,000 from tennis, he was ranked 186 in the world and had a win ratio of only 40%. By 2011 the situation was very different. Djokovic was number one in the world, earning in excess of $14 million and with a win ratio of 92%. That’s an extraordinary shift in success whether measured by rankings, earnings or win ratios. In his TED talk ‘How to Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals’ Stephen Duneier points out that Djokovic doesn’t control the statistics. What he controls are the decisions he makes along the way that leads to points won. Djokovic made more good decisions on the court that lead to him winning more points which resulted in more wins. Marginal improvements in his process lead to substantial improvements in his results.

So what does this mean for us? How can we apply the idea of incremental improvements to our businesses?

The starting point is reflection. What are you doing now? How are you working? How do you make decisions and how do you allocate your time? Do you have thinking partners who challenge you to think differently, who bring new ideas to the table? Are you allocating your time to the things that are most critical to your success? What are you doing well? What processes yield great results? Where are things not working as you’d like? What processes are you following that are not producing results? What small changes in process can you make today to try and achieve different results?

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.” Whether this quote is by Mark Twain, Henry Ford, Albert Einstein or Anthony Robbins, the sentiment is true. In order to get different results, we need to do things differently. We need to identify small, incremental changes that will lead to significant improvements in results.

Productivity expert Chris Bailey in his TED talk “A More Human Approach to Productivity” identifies five crucial steps to better results: –

  1. Follow the Rule of Three. Bailey maintains we need to set only three intentions each day. At the start of each day, identify the three things that you most want to accomplish and commit to getting them done.
  2. Focus your attention on one task at a time. Be deliberate in what you choose you to focus. Don’t scatter your attention. This one definitely takes discipline but even 10 minutes of focused attention produces better results than half an hour of distracted attention.
  3. Cultivate your energy – make sure you eat well, exercise regularly and sleep well. As the old saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup!
  4. Disconnect from the internet. So, load shedding may have some advantages after all! Bailey says that top performers see the internet as a nicety and not as a necessity. When we have our internet open studies show that up to 47% of our time is spent procrastinating.
  5. While this sounds like a crazy suggestion, innovation happens when we allow our minds to wonder. When we create the space to allow our minds to drift we often see things from new perspectives, connect the dots and come up with new ideas. As entrepreneurs we have the ability to respond swiftly to changes in our markets, to innovate and be nimble. But we can only do this if we allow ourselves the gift of time to think and daydream.

Some resources to promote success:

  • Identify your Roles. Use them to set weekly goals and your daily intentions. Check out for more information on how to do this.
  • The Hello Me Journals website has a fantastic free 168-hour calculator tool that allows you to analyse how you allocate your time. Visit their website to gain insight into how you work and use the results to identify small incremental changes. If you can’t get your hours to equal 168 you may well be a victim of procrastination!
  • Find a thinking partner – whether this is a paid coach or mentor or a trusted friend or partner. Brainstorm, discuss, explore and collaborate to ensure best thinking.
  • Spend time each week reflecting on what went well, what small changes have lead to better results. Track the changes and the results. Reflect and refine on an ongoing basis.
  • Celebrate each success and share it with others!


Wishing you well on your journey of incremental change!


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