By Colin McGuire, CEO of Boomn.
Being a successful entrepreneur means clocking long, dedicated hours. But, as Henry David Thoreau is thought to have said, "It's not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?" When we talk about productivity, we mean using time effectively to produce results; moving the needle.
Here are five hacks I've found to increase productivity:
Take Care of Your Body
Brain food and physical activity are often undermined and overlooked. Nutrient-dense food and 30 minutes of regular activity can keep your mind and body at peak performance to operate at the highest possible levels. To get the most out of your days you need to be thriving, not surviving. Success in entrepreneurship is not only a product of your mind: It also comes from your intelligence, creativity and passion. Nothing kills productivity like fatigue, illness and anxiety that stem from a poor diet and lack of exercise.
I eat plenty of pizza, but I also I stop by my local juice shop for superfood smoothies, green juices and nutrient-packed juice shots daily. It's amazing to experience the increase in well-being and energy after my visit and how much I suffer when I miss a day. The secondary benefit I've found is that the time you spend working out is time away from your business that clears your mind. Oftentimes the solution to a knotty problem appears when I take a step back.
Start With the Hardest Thing on Your To-Do List
Start each day by tackling that item on your to-do list that you dread (and fear) the most. It doesn't matter why it's your most difficult task of the day; it matters that you do it first so that your day is set up for success. You'll experience an immediate sense of achievement, relief and a boost to your self-esteem too.
I often wake up at 4 or 5 a.m. (two or three hours before I normally do) to sit down and complete a task I've been putting off. The feeling I get when I cross it off my list sets me up to crush the rest of my day. Surprisingly, I harness more sustained energy in my day despite waking up early.
Many entrepreneurs try to do more than they should. I've learned to delegate and replicate myself. If you're solo, you'd be amazed how many freelancers are available to you at a lower cost than you'd expect. Delegating doesn't only apply to tasks you're not good at. It's important to delegate tasks that are low value and high in investment of time.
The most effective entrepreneurs I've met create processes for tasks they complete on a regular basis by training someone to do them just as effectively. It sounds easy on paper, and while it's difficult to relinquish important tasks and give up control, this is exactly the mindset that stunts growth and develops opportunity costs. Free up your time to focus on high-impact tasks for your businesses growth.
Set a Routine and Positive Habits
People are efficient when they establish routines and develop positive habits. Routines ensure positive habits and critical activities happen almost automatically. If I don't get to complete my full morning routine, my entire day is negatively affected. Mornings are important as they are the foundational start to your day. Set yourself up for success.
As an entrepreneur, no day will be the same. The most effective entrepreneurs start and end their days by planning what they want to achieve and need to overcome. I suggest making a physical list and outlining the three most important tasks to complete the next day. Each morning, I allocate specific hours of my day to completing my three tasks. Time management is critical.
Worth noting: You'll never sustain a consistent program of physical fitness if you try to squeeze in a workout without first planning it. Make it part of your routine. Some people get up early and workout to start their day. There is no right answer, other than having a consistent routine.
Colin McGuire is the CEO of Boomn, a leading full-service digital marketing agency for top consumer brands and influencers.