Here are the 7 habits the world's most successful entrepreneurs have cultivated that allow them to consistently achieve, earn, and enjoy more.
- Build blocks of time in which to create value.
Most business owners allow their time to be "sliced" to death. They have 5 minutes to focus on a project before an email interrupts them. Then they move to a meeting, only to have 15 minutes to prep for the next meeting that starts soon after the first. Then they get hit with 2 staff requests as they leave that meeting on their way back to their office. And so goes their day.Know this, it is extraordinarily hard to create your best value in small slivers of time. We need blocks of 30 minutes to 2 hours of uninterrupted time in which to think, to plan, to create, to execute on key items. One way to create regular blocks of time is something I call "Focus Days", a concept of carving out 2-4 hours one day a week in which to dedicate your time to your highest value activities.
- Reserve the first hour of the day for your highest value activities, not email.
Ordinary entrepreneurs crave control and immediate emotional rewards. The first thing they do when entering the office is check their email. (In fact, they likely already checked it twice before reaching the office.) What a wasted opportunity. Instead, when you get to your office, block off the first hour as your golden time to do one or two high value activities that actually progress your business.99 percent of email just helps you tread water, invest your golden hour in something that makes a difference. Imagine the power of five uninterrupted hours each week (one hour a day x five days a week) invested in your top priorities. Now multiply that by the 48 weeks a year you work (you are taking off a minimum of 4 weeks vacation a year right? If not, read this article now.) That's 240 working hours a year of your best time doing your top value activities. That is a full one and a half working months of upgraded time. All from blocking out your golden hour each day.
- Give your company the gift of your best attention.
Time isn't thescarcest resource--attention is. Your best attention, the time when you are at your sharpest and most productive, is thescarcest resource in your arsenal. Most business owners squander their best attention on low value email, staff interruptions that actually weaken the business because their staff could have handled the situation on their own, and on other "urgent" but low value tasks.Instead I'm pushing you to take your best and most productive time (Is it in the morning? Or later in the day?) and block it off to focus on the highest value items you and only you can do for your company. Even if you only do this for one to two hours a day the results you'll enjoy will be extraordinary.
- Do fewer things, but make sure they are the things that really matter.
Once upon a time, when you first started your company, you did everything. Later as the company grew you controlled everything. But to make the shift to sustainably scale your company to all you want it to be you've got to make one more key shift to give control back to your business (to the systems, team, internal controls, and culture you've created) and instead narrow your focus down to the few things that you do that create the very most value.
- Create your "Stop Doing" list.
In our working life we have those things that we "say" are more important, and then we have those things that we actually invest our limited time and attention on doing. The more congruent our behaviors are with our stated goals and values in the workplace, as evidenced by what we invest our time and attention working on, the more successfully we'll personally be, and that our company will be. Then use your Stop Doing list to concretely identify--in writing--those tasks, functions, or responsibilities that you will no longer give your personal time and attention to. Then pick which of the four "D's" you'll apply to get the item off your to do list, and what your next step in making this transition happen for this item.The four D's include: Delete (some tasks don't deserve to be done at all); Delegate (some tasks need to get done, but someone else can do it not you); Defer (some things need to get done and by you, just not this month or this quarter); Design them out (refine your systems to keep the task from coming up in the first place.)
- Put a hard stop at the close of your business day.
When you are at work--work. Be ruthlessly intentional about your time. Invest every hour of it for maximum business gain. And when you are home, block out work, and be with your family and enjoy your life. When you let your work bleed over to your life you not only make a trade that isn't worth it (I have several friends who have built multimillion and multibillion dollar companies who are divorced with estranged older children who will back this up) but what's more, it degrades your ability to create your best value over time at work.We all need to recharge and bring in fresh ideas and perspective into our business, this means we need time away from the daily grind. So pick your working hour limits and hold firm to them. For me, I put a hard stop at my working hours at an average of 40 hours a week and commit up front to block out and enjoy 10 weeks of vacation time a year. This commitment forces me use my working hours better. Plus at the end of the day, what am I doing this for if not for the family I love?
- Celebrate progress, not pinnacle moments.
Most business owners suffer from a perspective disease which pushes them to ignore progress and instead focus on all that is still left to do. When a team member shares a victory they say, "That's great, and now we need to ..." They leave their team feeling like the entrepreneur is the parent they can never please no matter how hard they try or how well they perform.So I encourage you to practice celebrating progress--your teams and your own--and build your muscles to savor, at least for a few minutes, the small steps you and your team take forward that mark progress towards your company goals. When you can let these progress moments in and enjoy them, you'll start to give your team permission to do the same, and over time the spirit of making progress will imbue your team with an optimism and energy that will translate into faster progress. And as a side benefit you'll retain your top people and help develop them into better and higher producing team members.
So there you have the seven most important productivity habits for you to develop as a business owner. If you want to learn more about mastering your use of time, I'm about to teach a new webinar that will focus in large part how you can create much more value in less time.
If you'd like to join me on this special webinar training, please just click here to learn the details and to register. (It's free.)