As an entrepreneur, getting more done today will directly impact the money you make tomorrow.
If your business is anything like mine, you don’t have deadlines or a boss that checks up on you. Everything is self-motivated and requires a continuous commitment to being disciplined. If you start slacking, your profit will inevitably decline as well. This is why time management is so important to entrepreneurs. Being more efficient means everything to your success.
Everyday, we’re given 24 hours. Once you account for sleep, the time we need to unwind and distress, and spending time with family, you’re probably looking at closer to 13 or 14 productive hours of the day.
While you can’t add hours to the day or remove your body’s need to rest, you can transform the way you think about time and how much you’re able to get done. Remember, everyone is given the same amount out of time.
If you feel like you’re struggling and there’s not enough hours in the day, you’re not alone, but you have to make changes to be more productive. I’m always wishing I had more time. It’s not that I’m under performing or being lazy, it’s just that there’s always more to do.
Remember, time is just there to keep track of the day. If you’re always focused on being productive and working toward your goals, you’ll probably make better progress than you would stressing over deadlines or operating under a schedule that’s too strict and rigid. If you follow some of the time management strategies for entrepreneurs below, you’ll get closer to reaching your goals and you will always be operating at max efficiency.
Make a Schedule and Stick To It
Human beings are goal driven and biologically programmed to chase rewards, but it might not be the type of reward you’re thinking.
When we accomplish one of our goals, our brain signals the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel good. Things like eating or drinking water aren’t conscious thoughts, but your brain still rewards you with a release of dopamine. It knows that these are vital to your survival and it needs to encourage you to continue these activities.
If writing content for your website is one of your daily tasks, you’ve probably already built a habitual pattern of feeling excited and happy when you complete that task. Part of this feeling is because your brain releases dopamine, rewarding you for having completed that goal. Unfortunately, your brain doesn’t make the connection that you’re accomplishing a goal that’s not in your typical routine unless you’re consciously thinking about it.
The single best practice, used by the most effective people in just about every field, is setting goals. Every single day, they figure out what they want to get done and they write it down. Then they work out exactly when they are going to do it.
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t really know how long it takes you to get things done. If you set a specific time of day to perform each task, you will not only train yourself to go into those tasks with the correct frame of mind, but you will also get a good idea of how much time it takes you to perform them. When you start a task with the thought of completing it on your mind, the rush of accomplishing that task is going to be much stronger. This is why it’s vital that you actively track your goals and consciously think about what you’re setting out to achieve. You’ll feel much better at the end of your day when you can cross items off your to-do list.
If you find it takes a lot longer to get things done than you thought it would, it’s probably that you’re distracted. Both physical and mental distractions can take a toll on productivity.
If you sit down to answer a few emails but you find yourself on Twitter or chatting with a co-worker, what should have been a 20 minute breeze turns into an hour and a half slog. It happens to the best of us. Instead, set specific times to check email and social media, and turn off your notifications. Put your phone on silent. Close your office door, or put on some headphones. As much as you might mean to focus on the task at hand, if you don’t take a hard line against distractions and interruptions they’ll eat away your time without you even noticing.
You have a million things to do, and there’s no way to get them all done. But do you really? It is easy to get overwhelmed when you have too much on your plate, and this leads to time and energy wasted on anxiety and unnecessary tasks. Make a list of everything you need to do, and put the most important ones near the top. If you have large, complicated goals, break them into smaller pieces. That way you can focus on getting the important stuff done, and do the rest when you have extra time.
There’s a good book written by author Brian Tracy called Eat That Frog. It discusses the importance of attacking your biggest task at the beginning of your day. When you eat that frog at the start of the day, you have the rest of the day to feel great about your accomplishment and your productivity skyrockets. For most, the big frog to eat at the beginning of the day is sales calls and support. If you have clients to call or followups to make, do it right at the start of the day and watch as your sense of accomplishment soars and you feel motivated to work harder.
Utilize Peak Productivity Times
Research into productivity shows that people do their best work during different parts of the day. If you are always groggy first thing in the morning, don’t take on the tasks that require complex planning and problem solving until you are more awake. Taking the time to understand your energy cycle, and scheduling your work around it, will make you feel more energized and your work more efficient.
Play into your strengths and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to power-through your weaknesses. Some of us are morning people, some of us aren’t. If you’re having a hard time waking up in the morning and getting things done, allow yourself to sleep in and work through the evening. While your social life may suffer, your business and focus will flourish.
It seems obvious, but few people take the time to get truly organized. We waste so much time searching through our email looking for contact information or unnecessarily contacting a client to find out when that meeting was supposed to be. Instead, try setting aside some time each day or each week just to work on organization.
Make lists, organize your files and your email, arrange your contacts into useful categories. There is a great deal of excellent software out there to help you, and the amount of time the extra organization will save you on every single task is enormous.
Different techniques work for different people. Try each of these out for a week, and see what difference they can make to your efficiency and your productivity. The results might surprise you.
Getting organized does more than just improve your efficiency as an entrepreneur. Organization helps you feel better and more comfortable in your work environment. When you don’t have to search around to find things, you stay in a natural state of calm without feeling frustrated or overwhelmed.
Have you ever accomplish something you’ve been meaning to, felt great for a day, but then went right back to the way things were before immediately afterward? You’re left with a sense of dread that you couldn’t do a better job. To combat this, practice consistency. Instead of trying to be perfect one day and overwhelming yourself, just make steady progress everyday. Consistency is key, it’s an old saying that holds true with just about everything. If you consistently make changes to your time management habits, you’ll be a more successful entrepreneur.