It is widely believed that if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, then you have to work long hours and weekends to accomplish everything you set out to do. Investing countless hours in building your company to the detriment of your personal time and your health is often praised as the well-trodden path that every successful entrepreneur before you took to achieve their success. However, this really shouldn’t be the case.
As an entrepreneur if you can learn how to effectively delegate the work that you’re not skilled at or those tasks that you don’t have time to complete, and you learn how to work smarter and more efficiently, then there should be no reason why you can’t reduce your workload so that you can spend more time with your loved ones, while still putting in the effort to grow your company and be prosperous. When you can effectively manage your time, not only are you able to get more done in less time, but you can achieve the work-life balance that you need to avoid burnout.
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To increase your daily productivity, you need to learn how to focus on one task at a time and avoid multitasking. It is entirely pointless for you to try to do everything all at once. Using some simple tactics and techniques, you can effectively manage your time to increase your productivity, so that you can accomplish more in the time that you have. Here is a practical 5-minute guide to help you transform your work habits so that you can get more done in less time and become a successful entrepreneur.
Working with To-Do Lists
To-do lists, when effectively used, can help you stay on track and accomplish more in less time. However, when it comes to creating your to-do list, you can’t merely place tasks to be completed on the list and call it good. To-do lists are most effective when you prioritize the tasks on the list. One method that you can use to prioritize your to-do lists is the Eisenhower, or Time Management, Matrix.
The Eisenhower Matrix is a productivity tool that can help you sort and prioritize your daily tasks. It is based on the principals of importance and urgency and enables you to prioritize your tasks based on their urgency and importance. The Eisenhower Matrix features four quadrants that all your tasks should fit into, as follows:
- Tasks that are both important and urgent (Quadrant I)
- Jobs that are important but not urgent (Quadrant II)
- Tasks that are not important but that are urgent (Quadrant III)
- Tasks that are neither important or urgent (Quadrant IV)
When it comes to prioritizing your to-do list, any task that falls in Quadrant I, you should complete immediately. Those that fall into Quadrant II are tasks that you should plan and place on your schedule to ensure they get completed. Any responsibility that falls in Quadrant III should be delegated, and those that fall into Quadrant IV can be deleted.
After you’ve prioritized the tasks on your to-do list, you can utilize apps like Clear Todos or Evernote to stay organized and on point. You can create an in-app list before you go to bed at night as a way to clear your head and plan your days so that you can jump into work first thing in the morning.
Too many people believe that multitasking can help them accomplish more throughout the day. However, multitasking has been proven to reduce productivity by 40 percent. While you may think that you’re really good at multitasking, unfortunately, you are more than likely getting less done, as well as producing sub-par work. The fact is, our brains just aren’t equipped to effectively multitask activities that require brainpower, because our short-term memories are only capable of storing five to nine things at once.
When you are trying to complete two different tasks where each task requires some level of attention and consideration, multitasking ends up falling apart. Your brain just can’t take in and process two simultaneous, separate streams of information and fully encode them into your short-term memory. When information isn’t encoded to your short-term memory, it doesn’t get transferred into your long-term memory for recall later, and if you can’t recall it, then you can’t use it.
If you want to learn how to get more done in less time, then you have to realize that multitasking is a myth. Your brain is merely incapable of simultaneously processing separate streams of information that comes from trying to work on multiple tasks. To start to accomplish more, you need to learn to focus on one task at a time, or what is known as single-tasking. Learn how to commit to your choices and complete a single task before moving onto the next.
You can begin to reform your work habits by utilizing a conditioning method known as the Pomodoro Method, which was developed by Francesco Cirillo. The technique teaches you to focus in short intervals and work with time, rather than against it.
Automate as Much as Possible
Every technological advancement over the last century has been made with the goal of trying to make everyday tasks easier to complete with less effort so that we can free up more space for deep thinking and focused work. For entrepreneurs, automating repetitive tasks can save you substantial time throughout your day and help you accomplish more. Automated tasks will let you skip many of the essential functions that require your attention. Automating a number of the smaller jobs that you work on every day can free up a significant amount of time that you can spend working on more critical tasks.
Most entrepreneurs spend their days crossing off tasks on their to-do list only to realize they haven’t really accomplished anything that will move them closer to their goals and objectives. What makes this worse is that when the essential tasks need to be done, they often feel too tired, drained, and unwilling to work on those tasks. One way to eliminate what is considered ‘busy work,’ is to automate those time-consuming and energy-draining tasks to make room for the high-priority tasks that will help you reach your goals.
Take a look at your daily tasks and consider how much of the daily work you can automate. You might have emails that you regularly receive that can receive an automated response. Or maybe you can automate your social media marketing with the help of tools like Meet Edgar. Utilize the technology that is available to you to help you automate the repetitive aspects of your business. If you don’t know where to start, you can look at tools like, Zapier, or If This Then That, IFTTT, to get some ideas on what you can automate to save you some time so that you can get more done throughout your day.
Delegate and Outsource Non-Essential Tasks
Many entrepreneurs are under the impression that in order for them to be successful, they need to be the ones to do everything in their business. Unfortunately, this only leads to them working too many hours and not seeing the results. To be a more productive entrepreneur and have the time to work on those activities that will help you grow your business and increase your profit, you need to know when to delegate and outsource those tasks that you either don’t have sufficient skills to complete or tasks that are necessary but that don’t help you improve your business.
The biggest struggle for unproductive entrepreneurs is learning which tasks they can outsource and how to outsource them. The best way to determine this is by looking at your daily tasks and figuring out how much money the repetitive, tedious tasks are costing you. If you’ve previously considered outsourcing some of your workloads, but don’t think that there is anyone that is competent enough to do it, you should at least consider testing a virtual assistant before coming to a conclusion. These days it isn’t challenging to find a great virtual assistant if you can over-communicate what exactly you need, as well as being able to define clear expectations and outcomes.
If you have partners or a team, utilize them. Don’t be afraid to delegate some of your work and responsibilities to your team members when you need to. You have to realize that you don’t have to be the superhero of your business. You need to learn how to prioritize what’s essential for growing your business and delegate the rest. It’s all about figuring out how to appoint the right task to the right people. This involves being able to match the requirements of the task you’re delegating to the abilities of the person who wants to complete the task.
Use the 2-Minute Rule
The 2-minute rule is a time management method that can help you get more done in less time. It has it roots in David Allen’s bestselling book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. In essence, the 2-minute rule is a method for moving through your day-to-day activities more efficiently. When it comes to the daily tasks that you need to complete daily to make your business successful, the two-minute rule states that if you have a task that you can complete in two minutes or less, don’t wait, complete it immediately. There are so many simple and easy tasks that are put off, that can be completed in two minutes or less, like setting appointments or sending out an email. To help you get more things done during the day, go through your to-do list and tackle any tasks that will take two minutes or less to complete, then move on to your more important, and time-consuming tasks.
The 2-minute rule isn’t just for knocking simple items off your to-do list but can be used to help you beat procrastination and move closer toward your goals. The idea is that if you have a task that you don’t want to work on, spend just two minutes working on it. The idea is that once you start working on the task, you’ll be more likely to continue working on it until it is complete. The 2-minute rule works because of the inertia of life. As Sir Isaac Newton taught us, objects at rest tend to stay at rest and objects in motion tend to stay in motion.