Every entrepreneur wants to use their time more effectively, it’s only natural. The hard part is actually putting this in practice. Getting distracted and lack of self-discipline are the biggest threats to your business’s success. Here are 4 techniques you can use to increase and stabilize your productivity,
Take a close look at where your time goes
There’s a difference between just working and working with focus. The more focused hours of work you put in, the more growth you’ll see in your business. A lot of times we start a task and slowly let other things creep in, before you know it your going back and forth between two or three tasks. A more effective approach is setting aside focused time for each task you have to do.
Eliminate all distractions – This is very simple but effective. Turn off your phone, close your email and close any programs that don’t have to do with what you’re working on. If you work at home it’s important that the people you live with respect your work time and leave you alone. You may consider putting a door on your workspace if you don’t already have one. You’ll notice it’s easy to lock in on a task when there’s nothing else around to focus on.
Use a time tracker – Before you start work everyday you should take 5 – 10 minutes to plan out what you want to accomplish that day. Assign a specific amount of time for each task; it’s better to overestimate than underestimate how much time you’ll need. Planning your day like this keeps you focused and makes sure you get multiple things done everyday. You can use a stopwatch, an app on your phone or set a reminder on your calendar to let you know when its time to switch tasks.
Take Breaks – When you’re concentrated on your work your brain goes into what’s called focused mode. Long periods of time spent in focus mode makes us mentally tired. When you take a break your brain goes into what’s known as diffuse mode. In diffused mode your brain calms down and makes new connections from information learned during your day.
It’s important to spend time in both modes throughout the day. Taking breaks allows us to go back to work refreshed and with new perspectives. Take advantage of how your brain works and use a combination of focused and diffused mode to your advantage in order to solve problems as you come across them. Many great thinkers of our society have solved tough problems in diffused mode, while taking a walk for example.
Look For Easier Ways to Get Things Done
Simplifying is the key to innovation in business. A lot of the time we get so wrapped up in what we’re doing that we end up taking unnecessary steps. A lot of companies get bogged down with their own internal processes that were originally supposed to be helpful but end up causing chaos. Take a step back and reevaluate all of the actions you perform in your business. What can be done easier? What can you do faster? Which tasks can you do without? Finding ways to use your time more effectively will always be good for your business.
“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” – Bill Gates
Start with looking at your daily tasks when looking at what to simplify. Create a list of time consuming tasks. Simple things such as creating invoices, sending emails and following up with clients can put a strain on your time. It’s important to either set aside a specific time to handle these tasks or consider getting an assistant to help you.
Some great examples of simplicity in business are Amazon.com, Ebay.com and even Google.com. Each one of these companies selected one area to focus on (shopping, selling and searching) and perfected it before branching out in to other areas. Because Google has perfected their search engine it ensures a constant flow of people to their business, which creates the opportunity for them to focus on other areas like advertising. Amazon was well known for books specifically before becoming the e-commerce giant it is now. Get your business doing 1 thing extremely well before expanding.
Create Your Own Custom Organization Techniques
The key to running your business smoothly is simple organization. Organization keeps you on track, reduces anxiety and helps you maintain a clear focus. Where a lot of entrepreneurs get in trouble is using organization systems that eat away at their time, they spend more time fiddling around in the system than working. Using complex programs or searching through thousands of physical files just isn’t effective and it eats away at your time.
You’ll need to find a way to manage all the tasks, obligations and deadlines associated with your business that doesn’t overwhelm you. If you remember things better when you write them down then you should make that a key part of your organization techniques. Same thing if you remember things better when you visually see them. Here are a few suggestions:
24me – 24me is a convenient app that combines your calendar, your to- do lists and notes all in to one app. It then sends you reminders for all of these things, you can even input your bills and get a reminder from them.
Wunderlist – Wunderlist offers a very easy to use format to organize your tasks and thoughts. This app is visually appealing, you can share lists with other people as well as get reminders sent to your email.
Dragon Dictation – While not exactly an organization tool, Dragon can be used to save you time while creating documents. If you find your mind moving faster than your fingers while you’re typing, try using Dragon to record all of your thoughts. This is a quick and easy way to write long documents, simply by speaking.
Cozi – Cozi is designed to help families stay connection but it also works for teams of small businesses. Everyone’s appointments and tasks are on the same calendar and visible to everyone. A quick glance can tell you what everyone is up to and where everyone is going to be. You can also share notes & pictures through this app.
A whiteboard is a great and inexpensive way to get your business organized. Whiteboards work well for people who remember best from seeing, writing things down as well as physically doing something. A whiteboard engages your brain in many different ways, which helps with how easy something is to remember.
Whiteboards can be used in any way you want. Some people put pending tasks or they use it to help them design plans. You can also dedicate certain sections of the board to specific sections of your business. However you use it, remember the goal is to make how you get yourself organized. If you find yourself wasting time making adjustments on the board, playing with the marker colors or find it takes too long to write everything out, move on to a different method.
“Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy and rewarding life.”
– Marilu Henner
Take care of your health
While not directly related to your business, your health has a direct influence on how perform in your work. A proper diet and consistent exercise helps your brain function at higher levels, giving you perspective and stronger mental discipline. Many entrepreneurs neglect their health because of their busy schedule. It’s important to realize sitting for long hours in front of a computer takes toil on your body. It’s important to schedule time to get active and strengthen your body.
Getting sick is not just unpleasant it also affects your business. As an employee and CEO of your company, you can’t afford to not show up. A lot of time health concerns can be alleviated with prevention in the form of lifestyle changes. When you neglect your health you put your business at risk. Allowing yourself to fall into poor health also makes it harder for you to get proper insurance coverage.
All entrepreneurs are busy but not all of them are out of shape. You need to find ways to work exercise into your daily routine. Invest in a set of weights that can fit in your working area, there are many exercises you can do during breaks. Try and stand more while you’re working, this will help improve your overall blood flow. You can also get creative and see if 24-hour gyms would be a good option for your schedule. It’s key that you approach your diet the same way and set aside time to eat home cooked, non-processed foods. While it may seem tedious, all of these steps are an investment in your health and an indirect investment in your business. Just think about what will happen to your business without your health.
Keep these techniques in mind and adapt them for your own personal use. Things like planning out your days, creating your own custom organization techniques and maintain your health will all benefit you in the long run. Remember that the key to innovation is simplicity; don’t sabotage yourself by overcomplicating your business.