For most entrepreneurs, busy doesn’t even begin to describe how their days look. A business has a million and one moving parts that we need to keep an eye on, especially in the beginning stages—we can’t simply punch the clock like we did when we were employees. Now that an entire venture—and the livelihood of other people—is in our hands, the work that needs to be done and the time needed to make it all happen, can take over our lives easily if we’re not too careful.
While a bit of crazy is normal, even requisite, for any budding business owner, no one would want for chaos to take over a life either. To be able to move forward, we need to have more control of our time and our workload each day. By working on being a more productive entrepreneur, we can gain clarity, space and opportunities that will make our business grow.
The following are some techniques anyone can try to cut work hours, accomplish more and gain more balance in life:
Start the day right – What happens in the morning will have a huge impact on the entire day. We should establish a morning routine that suits our lifestyle and personality. Some people find it effective to go straight into a physical activity (such as exercise or a brisk walk) as soon as they wake up. Others feel that a bit of stillness (such as yoga or quiet coffee time) is all they need to fuel the full-packed day ahead of them.
Tackle the hardest things first – Some call this the “eat that frog” technique. Identify the most important, most challenging or most hated task and deal with it first. People can be amazed at how much smoothly the workday flows after they have checked off that task that they will most likely keep putting off, causing bottlenecks in the system.
Use the Pomodoro technique – This is a productivity hack that countless entrepreneurs swear by. Here’s how to do it: Get a timer. Choose one task and commit to 25 minutes of focus on that task alone – no distractions, no interruptions. When the timer rings, stop work and take a 3-5 minute break. Repeat the process throughout the day. We can use a traditional kitchen timer, or use an app (there are many of them) designed for implementing the Pomodoro technique.
Create SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) – Make systems more efficient and reduce mistakes by writing down the guidelines for the tasks frequently done in the business. The document can be a step-by-step process or just a basic checklist. Having SOPs establishes standards in the workflow and make training and task delegation easier.
Delegate – We should build a reliable, highly competent team and hire specialists so time can be freed up, and invest it in what we do best as a business leader. Lean how to delegate effectively, not just in business, but also when it comes to our personal chores. Effective delegation lets us use our energy wisely. It reduces stress and overwhelm, allowing us to be the best entrepreneurs that we can be.
An average day in the office for me would contain moments of yoga, meditation, mindfulness and I swear now by green tea (especially steamed jasmine flavoured) throughout the day. Complement your processes and working hard, with short bursts of calm too, to keep at your most productive. I know, it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, to stop working for a bit, to get more done, but if you go full pelt all day, you’ll soon loose some of your focus and motivation, we can’t run at 110% awesome all day long without side effects.
I’ve been trying the Pomodoro technique for a few weeks now, using the Android Task Timer Calendar app which I highly recommend if you like to track your time in a calendar. It syncs your Pomodoros into a calendar of your choosing – I’d suggest if you’re planning on being productive, making a new calendar for these sync’d tasks – they soon add up!
Then one big final mention for two things…
Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t as productive as you planned on being, everyone has off days, it’s just important to swish it away and focus on a better day tomorrow – obviously having updated your task list before you leave work for the day, with tomorrow’s awesome plans on!
Evaluate it – My motto is work smarter, not harder, make sure you’re achieving what you wanted to each day, week, month, year. Use a task list for your actions, but reflect back on your achievements and tasks at regular intervals, so you know what’s working and what need improvement.
Last year I wrote a blog on Apps for Productivity check that out if you’re an app-for-everything-kinda-person like me.