Most entrepreneurs know the secret to running a successful business is hard work. Some people shy away from it, while most acknowledge that they work more than they ever did when they were employed. It is common belief that the harder we work, the more it pays off.
You might be happy doing whatever it takes to make your business successful, including putting in extra work. But somewhere along the line your priorities might change, and you realize your time and attention is needed in other areas of your life. For instance, you might get married and have children, which will change everything. As much as you love your business, you wouldn’t want to neglect your family and the people you love.
Time is money is an old saying used almost exclusively by big business moguls to your parents, trying to teach you a valuable lesson when you were young. Here is what they failed to tell you; time is free, and we all get the same amount. Some people just consistently fail at producing more with the time they have.
You don’t have to be the next ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ to learn how to be more productive with your time, especially in the hyper-connective world we live in today. Tackling both your personal life and running a business can be overwhelming, resulting in stress and fatigue. The best way to manage your time is by changing how you do things.
First and foremost, you need to get realistic about what you could achieve on a normal day. Secondly, you need to get ruthless with how you go about achieving those things. Below are some of the things you can do to get all your work done in only five hours every day.
Create a ‘to do’ list
At the end of your working day make sure you make a ‘to do’ list for the next day. Start with all the things you have to do, before writing down the things that would be nice to do, or the ones that don’t need your immediate attention.
When you create the list of things you ought to do in this format, you will realize three things:
You will never sit down at your desk and wonder what activity you should do first.
You will always be tackling the hardest tasks first, since that is when you have the most energy.
Your afternoons will often be filled with some of the things you like doing. These include the activities on your ‘nice to do’ list which is generally full of the more fun tasks.
Wake up early and exercise
Sleeping early and waking up early is an incredibly effective way to stay healthy. When you hop out of bed a little early, you get time to address all the personal chores you might not have the time or desire for once you get home.
Exercise is also an important part of staying healthy and productive. Most people who exercise in the morning don’t find difficulty in concentrating on hard tasks at work. This means you will be both physically and mentally ready to tackle the things you have to do in fewer hours. Since you don’t get to do fun stuff from your to-do list, make sure you exercise and make it your “having fun” time.
Create a rock-solid morning routine
Most people firmly believe that how they start their day directly influences how the rest of the day plays out. This is true to some extent, because having the right attitude from the moment you wake up enables you to go through your day in a good mood despite any hardships. For instance, if you start your day by snoozing your alarm several times, the chances are that you will be late to work, feel pressured and rushed throughout the day.
Having a rock solid morning routine ensures you have enough time to get ready for the day. Whether you meditate, exercise or do yoga every morning, or you sit down and read the paper while you leisurely have breakfast, a routine is always positive. It allows you to be calm and ready to take on the tasks of the day, without being overstimulated or on edge.
Become an email ninja
If you are running your own business, there’s a high chances you have a lot of clients or associates you deal with on a daily basis. Here is perhaps the best tip for responding to email messages; respond with five sentences or less. You didn't need to reply to your emails with an essay just because someone has sent you a lengthy email. Answer your emails in five sentences or less where it is practical.
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Always have a notebook on your desk
Sometimes we get so engrossed with work that we forget our small responsibilities, such as paying bills. You might be working, and a thought crosses your mind about something you have to do. You figure you will remember it later, but you don’t. It is not uncommon to think of something while you are in the middle of doing something else.
Deciding to do that particular thing while you are in the middle of doing important work might slow down your productivity. So how do you remember all these things you need to do? Write them down in a notebook that you keep next to you on your desk, and get back to the task you were working on. The things you write down on your notebook can always be done some other time.
Most of the time we get tempted to work on another task while waiting for a big email to send, a file to download or another program to open. But do not do it, because it will mess you up. Numerous studies have proven that multitasking is hugely inefficient. Regardless of how good you think your brain is at swapping back and forth between different tasks, you can’t deny the fact your brain works much better when you’re working on one task at a time.
Turn off all your notifications
A simpler way to put this is, turn off all your distractions. While you are working, you don’t need to know who mentioned you on Facebook or who liked your photo on Instagram the exact moment it happened. You certainly don’t need to know who retweeted your post unless your ‘have to do list’ involves social media marketing. You probably get lots of emails on a daily basis - but you don’t need to know the exact moment every one of them drops into your inbox.
You can wait till you are not busy to log into your social media accounts and check out what’s going on. Always remember there is nothing life threatening to happen on social media to warrant your immediate response. If there is something urgent that you are needed for, you are more likely to get a phone call about it than a Facebook notification.
There are many things you can do to help carry out all your day’s activities. You will need a certain degree of ruthlessness to fit a full-day's amount of work in a five-hour a day work plan. But we all have it in us to do so1.
If you have any questions or comments don’t forget to leave them in the comment section below.