I don't have to tell you, the aspiring entrepreneur, that you've got a full plate. There's so much to do with so little time to accomplish it that things can get a bit overwhelming. How are we ever-busy entrepreneurs supposed to get anything done? Well, you could start by increasing your productivity using these seven hacks.
1. Find The Schedule That Best Suits You
One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is that you can make and set your own schedule-- which isn't an excuse to take off every time your favorite baseball team has a home game. This does mean, however, that you can make a schedule that fits your personality. If you're ready to get things done at 5 a.m., then that's when you need to start your day. If you're more productive at 3 p.m., then build a schedule around that.
In other words, get as much work as you possibly can during the hours when you're most productive. Once you know when these hours are, make sure that you maintain a strict schedule around them.
I personally have found that I can get 10x more done in the mornings than the afternoons. I prioritize everything important (meetings, pitches, etc.) in the morning, as I know it's my most focused time.
2. Keep Distractions to a Minimum
It's incredibly easy to get distracted, especially when you're checking your phone every five minutes for texts, e-mails, and social media notifications. So how can you avoid those time-consuming distractions throughout the day?
When it comes to e-mails, try to check them while on the go. Instead of just standing there doing nothing while waiting for your coffee in the morning, for example, you could be going through and responding to some messages. You could also make sure to keep you phone in either silent mode or offline while working so that social media or Skype won't keep going off. Or you could use a tool like Pocket, which is a do-it-later service.
If you can't commit to these tactics every day, then you may just want to plan for certain days of the week to do so. Think of these has "airplane days." This means turning off all of your devices and connections just as if you were putting them in airplane mode while traveling. You will be surprised how much more productive you'll be when your phone, tablet, and laptop aren't constantly grabbing your attention.
One additional note: I highly recommend sleeping with your phone in another room so it won't distract you while you sleep. This has helped me have 10x better sleep over the years.
3. Define Your MITs
MIT, which stands for Most Important Task, is a timeless asset that you need to know. It's rather simple to implement. All you have to do is make sure that you set aside several minutes every morning, or even the night before, to identify the three to five most important things you have to get done. Even if you don't get to anything else, you can at least put your mind at ease by knowing you still had a productive day.
Since I personally do pay-per-clock marketing (PPC) for several clients, I like to define what my most important task is every time I go into an account. Knowing what you're going to do prior to starting will help you focus your time better.
4. Always Have Something to Take Notes
Have you ever had a brilliant idea that was lost somewhere in your mind because you didn't make a note of it? Or how about all those times that you didn't pick something up from the store because it wasn't on the list? It happens all the time. But you can avoid that problem if you begin to use Ubiquitous Capture.
You need to record everything that comes to mind when it comes to mind. To make sure that you're able to take notes of all of your thoughts, make sure that you always have a pen and paper, index cards, or a cellphone readily available so that you can jot down reminders, numbers, or moments of inspiration. I personally like to use Notes on my iPhone.
5. Follow 'The Two-Minute Rule'
David Allen, a best-selling author and time management consultant, developed this rule: "If you determine an action can be done in two minutes, you actually should do it right then because it'll take longer to organize it and review it than it would be to actually finish it the first time you notice it."
Basically, this is a simple idea that will ensure that you aren't wasting valuable time. So if you have a couple of minutes between meetings or a conference call, you might want to take that time to organize files, check your e-mails, or grab a cup of coffee.
6. Give Up The Multitasking
I'm well aware that entrepreneurs are running around like maniacs trying to do 10 things at once. That just comes with the job. Here's the thing though: It doesn't work. And this isn't a new development either. Back in 1956 George A. Miller published "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information." This highly cited paper argued that the human brain can only store between five and nine things at once.
If you don't multitask, you'll be able to retain more information, work faster, and save time and money. Focus on accomplishing one task at a time instead of not completing a dozen other tasks.
7. Work With Your Ultradian Rhythms
Ultradian rhythms are natural body cycles that take place throughout the day every 90-120 minutes. During these cycles we're given signals if we're hungry, angry, or stressed out. Instead of fighting these cycles, embrace them by working in blocks of 90 minutes. Once the 90 minutes are up, take 15 minutes for a break to either eat, nap, or go for a walk.
By managing your energy this way, you'll notice that you'll be more productive because working in 90 minutes bursts keeps us feeling refreshed and energetic. Just keep in mind that your energy management is more effective if you actually get enough sleep at night--despite the misconception that entrepreneurs never sleep.