Today’s entrepreneurs are faced with the challenge of being both successful and extremely busy.
In fact, we often confuse being busy with being productive. While these two may seem very close or virtually the same, the truth is, they’re lightyears apart.
Being crazy busy is a reality for most ambitious people. It can seem impossible at times to get anything done other than answering emails or putting out fires in the day-to-day running of the business.
The key is figuring out how to prioritize your tasks so that you’re not spending all day responding to messages or checking in on social media accounts when there are much more important things that should take priority over those activities.
In this blog post, we’re sharing some powerful strategies for prioritizing your work as an entrepreneur so that you can spend time on what really matters most rather than getting lost in the cycle of monotony and never-ending workdays.
What’s the difference between being “busy” versus being more productive?
Not enough time vs making the time
- Busy people — often talk about not having enough time, but waste a lot of time on social media and chatting to people (not always, but a lot of the time)
- Productive people — strategic in how they approach tasks, willing to forgo certain activities (TV) to make time for a more important goal
The truth is, if you want more time, then stop doing something else. It’s just about making choices in your life.
The choice of spending an hour surfing Facebook or getting work done might seem obvious but not when you are feeling sorry for yourself because of how tough your day has been so far.
So what will it be?
Discipline or indulgence?
Saying yes quickly vs considering workload before saying yes
- Busy people — tend to say “yes”
- Productive people — weigh their options before saying yes
For productive people, especially business owners, saying “no” matters because they need to focus and do their best to serve their consumers without jeopardizing their integrity.
Busy people might feel quantity can outweigh quality and usually do not have time for their own endeavours.
Consumed with tasks vs strategized time management
- Busy people — may be consumed with many tasks and priorities
- Productive people — have fewer priorities because they plan and strategize time management in conjunction with their goals.
Busy people are often juggling several consumers’ needs and don’t prioritize quality over quantity.
In essence, it’s not always about creating the perfect item, but instead, the ideal system to make the intended item.
Opening all doors (quantity over quality) vs close some doors (quality over quantity)
- Busy people — are willing to open all their doors
- Productive people — know to achieve the best, you need time. In this case, they would rather close some doors to help deliver excellence to every customer.
To be more productive, again, it comes down to time management. If you’re dividing yourself into a million pieces to help other people achieve their goals, you’ll stay busy.
This might not necessarily be a positive thing.
Fast email replies vs considering your answer before giving a concise reply
- Busy people — open emails and reply immediately — training clients that they are always available
- Productive people — take their time to reply — asynchronous working style.
Checking your emails three times per day instead of having your inbox open the entire time you’re at work, can make you significantly more focused and productive at work.
7 Power Hacks to be More Productive
#1 Start your day without looking at the screen first thing
When you wake up, it’s easy to unlock your mobile, read your social media feeds, or check your mail and other messages.
This has become the norm for many of us. But to step into a productive stance, focus on getting mentally and physically prepared for your day.
If this means your first hour will be no contact with your phone or tablet at all, then make it part of your practice.
Another thing with screen time is that it can easily “suck you in” and you quickly want to check that funny video from a contact on FB or you just want to have some adorable laughs and sneak a peek at some cat videos.
Resist the urge at all costs because before you know it, you’ve lost 20–30 minutes of your day.
#2 Create a prioritized to-do list
To skyrocket your productivity, work with a To-Do list that takes your scheduling and prioritizing to the next level.
We personally love using To-Doist, because it allows you to prioritize your tasks, create projects and more.
Plus, it’s functions like a real To-Do list, not a project management tool, although you can do that as well with the tool!
Another good option is Trello or you can just type out your list every day.
#3 Divide your tasks
Ranking your tasks in order of priority is essential if you want to be more productive.
Spend a week observing how much time you’re spending on small, inconsequential tasks versus working on big projects/reports for clients.
Oftentimes, we’re spending more time filing emails and responding to messages than on sales!
As the leader of your business, you head the direction of the company and should be focusing on closing clients, networking with potential partners or clients and working on the forward trajectory of the company.
But as your business grows, so too does the list of things to complete each day.
Do you need help with some tedious tasks? It’s time to delegate! You may feel like it’s too much work to do something simple, but delegating your small tasks is a way for you to save time and money.
Plus, it will take the weight off of your shoulders so that you can focus on what really matters.
If you are fortunate to be in the position to employ staff, use them to your advantage.
Are you still performing tasks that could be handed over?
Do you tell yourself that no one else could do it as well as you or that only “you know how to do it”? If so, see point 5 below.
#5 Train your team
Your team will only be as good as you train them to be.
If you want to free up time to focus on the money-generating activities of your business, you need to be able to delegate and this means investing time and energy training up your staff.
You will never survive if you want to have control over everything.
If you cannot delegate to your staff, then you’ve either hired the wrong people or your ego is getting in your way.
You need to let go of smaller tasks so that you can focus on business-critical tasks. So train up your staff and help them be efficient.
After all, you want your staff to be productive too!
#6 Time block for focus work
Now that you’ve sorted out your list of priorities and delegates less important tasks, it’s time to do the important work that will make you more productive overall.
A great way to do this is to schedule time blocks in your calendar for focus work. This is dedicated time to work on big projects, proposals and client work that moves the needle in your business.
We recommend starting with 45 minutes and eventually making it a 1 hour or 1.5-hour session.
For this to work, you need to notify your staff that you are unavailable during that time and switch off all notifications on your computer.
Switch off your cell phone, have a glass of water nearby so that you eliminate all possible distractions.
Then get to work. In one week, you will be amazed at how much more you’ve got done.
#7 Cut time-wasting activities
We’ve hinted at this earlier but now we need to be clear: you will never succeed if you are wasting hours of your day on frivolous activities.
Social media, chatting to colleagues and more sap your time and your mental energy.
Have you noticed that after scrolling online for 10 or 15 minutes, you just don’t feel motivated to do any work?
Limit your time online and watching TV. Remember, most of us have families that we need to spend time with, so rather spend leisure time with them instead of being sucked into the black hole of the internet.
Maintain balance in your life
Speaking of families (see point 7 above), we want to mention that being more productive is a strategic business decision, but it shouldn’t consume your entire life.
If you are missing out on time with your family because you are always working and if you never attend social functions because you’re at the office, you might want to review your work-life balance.
Being an entrepreneur demands more of us, but we don’t have to sacrifice human connection in the race to the top.
The takeaway on how you can be more productive
We all know that time is our most precious commodity, and it feels like we’re always “running out of” or feeling as though we don’t have enough.
However, there are many ways to be more productive so you can work smarter instead of harder and accomplish your goals with ease.
These 7 power hacks will help you start making progress on the things that matter most in life — today!