Having productivity strategies in your business isn’t just important for success, it’s important for it being effortless. That’s not permission to avoid doing work, you still have to do the work, but the effort you put in is easy compared to the results. Imagine a car engine that is running on all cylinders and gets a regular tune-up. Let’s say you drive it 100km. Compare that to the same make a model car where the engine had been completely ignored. If it’s only firing on half its capacity, the 100km drive will use more fuel, wear down the car faster and reduce your top speed. In a few years time, the looked after car can still do the 100ks, the other one probably blew up in your face halfway there.
You are more productive when you use your energy properly, when you pay attention to how you are running under your business hood.
More productive is less stressed and more energised. You have time up your sleeve to be flexible, take a break, or give your loved ones your attention.
I have mentioned Brian Tracy already in previous posts because his time management methods have been on the market for decades, and they still work. Brian Tracy’s suggestions are open enough that you can apply them to anything you do. If you are busy, you need this.
If you haven’t read, Eat That Frog, here are some dot points. The reason I’m giving you this is because productive time means more success, and that’s what we are helping to do; build strong leaders, strong communities and better lives.
The best way to waste time is to do a stack of things at the same time. I admire enthusiasm, but it needs to be concentrated, or it goes nowhere. New entrepreneurs often feel they need to start three businesses with four products in each one, immediately. No. You can never dedicate enough time to see them out. Pick one thing, do that, and get results. When it is up and running and can make a profit without you, then look at the next thing. The business skills you learn in that one thing can then be put back into your next product, halving the time it takes to get things running. Get one thing right and do that well and the rest will rapidly follow.
Many successful entrepreneurs are world renowned and have incredible cash flow from having multiple businesses, but we are looking at their current success, not their early success and I promise, when they started out it was one thing. One goal. One passion. Do that. Focus your goal and then chunk it back to milestones and then prioritize those milestones. The first thing you do in your day will be the biggest thing you can do to get your goal met.
Keep an ideas journal or notebook to keep notes on possible new income arms and ventures.
Procrastination doesn’t exist, people like to use it as an excuse, to the point where it sounds like a disease. “I can’t, I’ve got procrastination.” No, you are just not positively motivated.
Lack of motivation leads to all kinds of distractions. Some seem business legitimate, like checking your email. Others are not at all legitimate, like scrolling through Facebook feeds. Even if your business is web-based and Facebook is your way of communicating with your clients, you still need to have a time-efficient approach. Determine what time of day and how long you are going to be online, which websites and what you are going to do there – write it all out on a list and stick to it. If you are worried about neglecting your clients, just tell them, I am available for Q&A between 10 am – 11 am and 2 pm – 3 pm. Find what time frames work for you, communicate this as a boundary and be strict about it. You will be surprised how much you get done when you are not helping everyone else.
Just like any muscle discipline gets stronger with use, so practice staying on task and tuning into your focused goal.
If you are really finding it impossible to keep your eyes off the newsfeeds and shiny advertising, it could be that your values are not aligned to a positive goal.
If you build amazing rapport with a client, partner or key sponsor during a meeting, great, just don’t let that eat into your day. Set a meeting time, have an agenda that covers all the points and get back to work on time. Part of this is achieved by not getting caught up on topics that don’t achieve an outcome.
This is also a really big trap for new entrepreneurs who love the feeling of being at business meetings, especially a lunch or coffee meeting. I agree, it’s a great feeling to be discussing what you love with a like-minded person in a trendy café, but you can’t spend all afternoon there. You can always set up an additional meeting to keep the energy moving and get your must-do tasks done. Again, if you are worried about being rude or seeming abrupt, let the person know well ahead of time – when you make the appointment, when you confirm the meeting or when you arrive – that you have to be done by X. That way they know they need to present what they want to say in a focused and clear way.
When planning your meeting time also remember times gets sucked up on preparation, getting there, getting back and getting back into your tasks again. If you can have meetings online, you cut down on wasted time.
If you really want a meeting to be without time limits, organise it for a time when you will already have your work completed for the day – and make sure it doesn’t impact your work the following morning; this is no time for a big night on the town.
Use an alarm
When you make your own hours it’s tempting to get up when you feel like it. Having your own business can turn into a schedule that resembles school holidays. Set your alarm and get up as early as you can manage. You can use that extra time to meditate, plan your day, start on your work and/or exercise (preferably outside). There is an added bonus to this as well that if you can get your business must dos checked off you will still have time to do the banking, make calls or go to the post office during their business hours.
To make this work you have to go to bed at a reasonable time. If you are consistently getting less than seven hours sleep a night you run the risk of burnout and susceptibility to illness, short and long-term. If you love to party, hang out or play games until the small hours, check in on your commitment. You need to be at a ten to make this work. Talk to your coach about issues that might be holding you back from giving your all.
You can’t run your business yourself, perhaps when you are just getting started and watering that seed and watching the first bits of green unravel, sure, but after that you are going to need a team of some kind. They can be virtual if you like.
You might need that team to help with tasks you do not have the skills to do yourself, or to get those lower items off your list. When you set up your list of things to do daily, weekly or monthly, there will be a portion towards the bottom of that list that are too manual for you to manage yourself, they are a distraction for your essentials (frogs) your need to do and your good to do. Delegate the second last items because they will never move up in priority on your list.
The world’s resources are ready and available at the click of a button. Apps are constantly coming into the market to help monitor, list, record, prioritise, track and double check. Where possible use Zoom for your business meetings, host a webinar instead of replying to the same email requests over and over, share your calendar so those closest to your work and life know your movements and can hold their questions and notifications until a suitable gap becomes available.
Get a coach
You may be leaking time and energy through old habits you are not even conscious of doing. Having a business coach will help you to find the best structure for your day and utilise your skills.
Will that save you time and energy and get you moving to your goals in half the usual time? In the words of Brian Tracy: You bet your bippy it will.