As a new entrepreneur, you will quickly find that one of your biggest problems in business is finding enough time in the day to achieve your goals. There are, of course, a million and one things you need to do every day, and failing to hit your targets can have a severe impact on your progress.
I’ve covered a few ideas on how to save time on this blog in the past, but today, I wanted to focus on a few of the actual productivity drains that can affect any entrepreneur. Included is a mix of personal and business issues that can plague anyone with a good business idea, and plugging these drains effectively will help you free up time to complete your daily task list, stay on track, and achieve your business aims as planned. Let’s take a look at the problem areas you need to be watching out for.
The late starter
Let’s say you get up at 7am every day, help get the kids ready for school and drop them off. The likelihood is you won’t be back at your desk until 9-9.15, and haven’t yet spent a minute on your work day. By the time you check your emails and get into the real work of the day, it could be 10-10.30. That’s an astonishingly late start, and the only way you are going to win back that time is by working late into the night. The problem is, by that stage, you will be tired, hungry, keen to go home, and the ticking clock will be putting you under a lot of pressure. In short, you won’t be as productive as you could be.
Now imagine you get up at 5am, before the kids wake up. You get two hours of completely uninterrupted time to work, and by the time you get back to your desk after the school drop off, you have already made a lot of headway in your day. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a ‘morning person.’ By getting up early you will force yourself awake, and be far more productive than you would be later on at night. You will be more focused on your return to the work desk, too, and will be able to jump straight back into your day.
Cluttered desk, cluttered mind
When you are super busy, it’s easy to take your eye off the ball when it comes to keeping your desk clean, tidy, and free from clutter. However, you should always put aside a little time at the end of the day to ensure your workspace is clear. Every little piece of debris, every document or file – it’s all a huge distraction that will play on your mind subconsciously. It’s not just your physical workspace we’re talking here, either – your computer’s desktop, phone notifications, Facebook page – they are all an unnecessary distraction.
The simple truth is that all these distractions are there for one purpose – to attract your attention. They are a constant reminder that something needs to be checked, when the reality is they don’t; they are just taking you away from what’s important.
The employee mindset
One of the biggest issues new entrepreneurs have is that they often still have an employee’s mindset. Think back to your last job – your boss expected you to do all your daily tasks in the eight hours of the day you are in the office. Quite naturally, you get into the habit of taking all that time to complete your work.
The difficulty with this mindset is that it doesn’t work with entrepreneurs. You need to be more ruthless with your time than you were as an employee. Adhering to strict schedules will help you focus your thoughts and energy into doing better work in less time. For example, let’s say you need to write a blog post. As an employee, your boss might give you a week or so to hand in your first draft. As an entrepreneur, however, you should be trying to get that post written, proofed, and published in two hours. So, get out of the mindset of working to a snail’s pace, and start being more ruthless, focused, and fast. Using something like the Pomodoro Technique can help you get off to a good start.
A lot of people will tell you to outsource a lot of tasks when you are an entrepreneur. In theory, it’s the right move to make – after all, it will allow you to focus your efforts on the real money making tasks in your business, and it makes sound financial sense. However, it’s not as simple as hiring a third party – you have to ensure you are choosing the right people.
Let’s say you want to start marketing your business properly. You don’t have time to learn the ins and outs of proper marketing research, SEO, targeting, or anything else, so the simple solution is to outsource to a third party. But you have to make sure you are hiring a reputable and highly experienced agency, or you will find that it is more trouble than it’s worth. You don’t want to be in a position where you have to hand hold all the way, spend hours discussing issues, and getting involved in the minor details. Successful outsourcing means taking a top down approach, and the only way to ensure this is to hand over the keys to the people that really know how to drive.
Be prepared to disappoint
Finally, if you want to experience entrepreneurial success, there will be things in your personal life that you won’t have time to do anymore. Your focus must be solely on your family first, then your business, and to be honest there will be little time for anything else. So, start rolling back on your other responsibilities, as the simple truth is you will have to eliminate a lot of previous commitments.
It could be a volunteering position in your local community, or perhaps your current job. It might be another blog you are handling, or a small side business you have going with a friend. Ultimately, you need to be prepared to disappoint people, and although it can be incredibly difficult, all these little things can add up into enormous productivity drains.
I hope this helps you identify some of the productivity drains in your life – good luck getting them blocked!
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