Being an entrepreneur can be a real juggling act. If you aren't constantly trying to improve your productivity, it's only a matter of time before all those balls come crashing down. For me, I run out steam in the afternoons, so I make sure that I'm maximizing my mornings. I get more work done 7-11a.m. if I minimize distractions. If not, I'm playing catchup all day.
1. Use Time Blocks -- Know When You're Most Productive
If you struggle with focusing on or prioritizing tasks, time blocks may be the answer.
These are mini blocks of scheduled time throughout your day (ie: Answer emails, 9:10 - 9:30 am). During each block, you focus on one very specific task and ignore everything else. This allows for maximum efficiency and ensures that you cross off all the priority items for the day.
For me, I've realized I'm most productive in the mornings, so I make sure that I'm working early to prioritize my productive hours. For example, I schedule conference calls for later in the afternoon.
2. Implement Accountability
It's amazing how public accountability can motivate us.
Set goals, even if it's just your to-do list for the day/week. Then, share them with a coworker, friend, or your team. Knowing that you'll have to report back and answer for not meeting those goals might add the extra motivation you need to see them through.
3. Don't Multitask
Your days are inexplicably busy. When possible, though, avoid multitasking and hone your focus on the job at hand.
When you're being pulled in a hundred directions daily, it's easy to bounce from task to task. However, this is inefficient -- jobs are left open and incomplete, or mistakes are made due to simple oversight. Staying focused on one task until completion ensures that they're crossed off and done to the fullest potential.
4. Cut Out Distractions
Easier said than done, I know, but try cutting unnecessary distractions throughout the day--like social media browsing. This may mean putting your cell phone across the room or even installing a productivity-boosting "blocker" on your computer.
5. Learn the Power of No
Only allocate your time to the most worthwhile tasks, which help you meet your goals. Sometimes, this may mean saying "No" to new projects, clients, or responsibilities that won't grow you in the direction you want.
6. Make Lists
I'm a fan of lists. There's something incredibly gratifying about crossing off tasks on a big, yellow legal pad, or deleted an item from the notes section on my phone.
More than that, though, lists can help you stay on track. If tasks are written down in front of you, you decrease the chances of them being overlooked or forgotten. You can also streamline your day if you have a list of specific pending items, rather than jumping around to whatever you think of next.
You know where your strengths lie (and what you do that grows your business), but you're only one person. If there are menial tasks that are eating up your valuable time, hire them out. Hire a part-time assistant or help from a freelancer site to cross them off.
To avoid a mental burnout, you should force yourself to unplug sometimes. This may mean turning off your phone each evening, ignoring weekend emails, or taking a long vacation every year.
When you're an entrepreneur, it's easy to be "on" at all times. However, this can stifle your creative flow and impact your effectiveness. Take time to regularly decompress - your mind (and business) will thank you.