Marginal Gains


An idea brought to prominence by Sir Dave Brailsford, Team Sky & British Cycling this attention to small details can have a significant impact on all aspects of sport, business & life in general.

The term has entered the mainstream however a key point often missed – particularly in a sporting context – is that the basics need to be done well before attention turns to these marginal gains. There is plenty businesses can take from some of the core principles that sports professionals live by. A lot of these seem obvious but having those that are core to you &/or your business in view on a day to day basis can really help to establish these as part of your routine.

A few that we’ve taken from a sporting perspective but feel add real value to anyone in business:

  • Get 8 hours sleep each night
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat a varied, balanced diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a positive mindset
  • Work with those that share your values, & share in each other’s successes
  • Only drink good coffee!

Below are a few examples of marginal gains from our experience within the working environment:

  • Stop hitting snooze!
    • Habits are hard to break, but this is one that can make a huge difference. Either keep the alarm for your usual tie & commit to get up immediately – use the 10-20 minutes to do something such as preparing your lunch for work, yoga, meditation or to enjoy breakfast with the family before entering the daily rat race! Alternatively set your alarm for the time you actually get up after snoozing – the extra 10-20 minutes each day adds up to a significant amount of extra valuable sleep over a few weeks.
  • Small tasks.
    • Set a small amount of time aside each day at a time you know you can commit to & work through several small tasks that need to be done. I find doing these first thing when I start work is best for me. Committing time for these small tasks ensures you feel like you have achieved something each day rather than seemingly merging one day into another without getting anything done.
  • The afternoon slump
    • Consider ways to help avoid it (when you have identified what time yours is!). Go for a brief walk outside, book an ad-hoc call – this could be anything from a brief call to a client to see how business is going to a follow up on a lead from some time ago, book the time for the small tasks above, catch-up on technical reading, listen to a podcast.
  • Comfort
    • Is your working environment – immediate & general – comfortable & conducive to productive working? Maybe you know you have better clarity of thought in total silence or your telephone manner is more friendly when you are standing. Is your working area setup for you or have you simply inherited what was there before without considering small changes that could help on a daily basis – a new chair, slight tweaks to the height of desks, screens etc, a standing desk, additional storage for a cleaner workspace.

Do you have any small changes that have made a significant impact on you &/or your business, especially considering enforced changes due to Covid-19? Please share them with us!

Updated from an original post by Stu Spencer, Charnwood Accountants & Business Advisors LLP

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