Six Ways to Enhance Your Productivity as an Entrepreneur
As an entrepreneur, it’s important to be as productive as you can. Time is limited but you can optimise how you spend that time by using these six strategies.
1. Manage Your Energy
You need a full tank of energy before you can offer your services to your clients, support to your team and still have something left for loved ones. We burn out when giving from an empty tank. Managing energy requires a few simple actions.
Firstly, get enough rest. Studies show that inadequate sleep is linked to poor cognitive function, memory and mood. As tempting as it may be to save time by cutting down on sleep, it’s difficult to be at your best when you aren’t rested.
Setting healthy boundaries is also an important way to maintain your energy. Saying yes to everything means that you might not have the time and energy to spend on the critical aspects that only you can do as the business owner. Be clear on what is your responsibility and lay down ground rules for staff and clients.
Simon Sinek educates us in his book, Start With Why, that leaders who are connected with their purpose, the true reason for their business, are able to inspire all those they come into contact with. Connecting with our purpose gives us a boost of energy that is infectious to clients, staff and suppliers.
Finally, make sure your own needs are met. This may sound strange because we often tend to put our needs on the backburner while we’re trying to be the best leader, service provider and mother. I’ve noticed that I feel a lot more energised to work towards my goals if my own needs are being met. I have less resentment and I am able to give my business my all. It’s important to take some time to identify what your needs are, and to clearly articulate them to staff and loved ones.
2. Eat That Frog
I read a book titled Eat That Frog! many years ago and the lessons have stayed with me. The author encourages us to do the most difficult things early in the day. We tend to procrastinate on the hard decisions, awkward conversations and scary tasks. If we tackle them first, we give ourselves a boost of energy and confidence that lasts throughout the day. For me as an introvert, I love to spend hours in my sanctuary writing. I am currently intervening people for my next book and I find it difficult to make the phone calls, asking strangers for an hour of their time. However, once I’ve set up a few interviews, I feel great and I can focus on the other tasks for the day.
On procrastination, I also use the technique of telling myself that I only need to do something for five minutes. It’s very clear that starting is the most difficult part and once we have broken that barrier, we inevitably work for longer than five minutes. I use this thinking when doing things like my tax and also in my writing. Writing a book can seem like a mountain of a task to climb, but if I tackle those first five minutes, it often becomes a few hours and several thousand words.
3. Minimise Meetings
Meetings are a part of life and they offer us an opportunity to discuss issues and ideas efficiently. I work hard on keeping meetings to a minimum, both in number and duration. I stick to the agenda with my clients to respect their time and mine. I decline unnecessary meetings and have opted for a few Skype meetings with clients who are further away. Ask yourself whether it’s critical that you attend each meeting and empower your team to attend where possible.
4. Eliminate Distractions
As a writer, I need big chunks of time to write. I block out and colour code sections of my calendar and strive to spend two days a week with no meetings. In this time, I turn my phone on silent and close my email so that I can fully focus on what I have to deliver. If you need a little more support in this space, there are great apps such as StayFocused and Cold Turkey that help to avoid the notifications and temptations from various social media sites and apps.
5. Planning & Delegating
On days where I have a lot to do and limited time, I make a day plan. I plan my day in segments and I keep referring to it throughout the day. It is highly rewarding to cross things off this list, which keeps me incentivised to keep going. I don’t always get to everything that I plan but, on the days where I do this, I tend to be more productive.
I’m hyper-aware of the things that I’m not good at. I suffered a severe burnout a few years ago, predominantly from working against my strengths. I elected to do the business accounting myself, even though I’m a creative person and accounting is not my strong point. That drained my energy significantly. I also did a lot of cold calling which was very unpleasant for a sensitive introvert.
With this awareness, I tend to outsource the things that I don’t enjoy doing. My company tax is handled by a diligent accountant and I use an online tool that is simple and gives my accountant access to my transactions. I also make use of a virtual assistant to do things that are really going to drain my energy. This frees me up to focus on strategy and where I want to take my business, thereby working on my business instead of in my business.
6. Letting Go Of Perfection
A form of procrastination can be perfectionism. Delivering high quality products and services is vital in order to meet client expectations and to keep them coming back. However, there comes a point where it is no longer productive to tinker and obsess. Identifying this point takes wisdom and experience and can be a true skill of a successful entrepreneur. Learn to step away when the product or service is meeting the core needs of the client. If you help them with their fundamental problems, they will be patient as you roll out extended features later.
Kathy Mann is a writer and speaker, based in Johannesburg South Africa. She’s passionate about building a happy life, on purpose using the tools of positive psychology. Kathy guides people towards living their best life possible through what she has learned in becoming very sick from stress. Women often feel so stretched, trying to be everything to everyone. Kathy’s here to remind you that being true to yourself, connecting with your strengths and talents, is the best way to serve the world.