As an entrepreneur, there are things you must do in order to accomplish your goals so you can have the kind of business and life you have dreamed of having. From managing a team to handling clients—and everything in between—it can be easy to lose complete control of your day. We all have the same 24 hours available each day; it’s how we choose to use those 24 hours that makes the difference.
Meetings, client services and a to-do list a mile long are frequent daily tasks in the world of running a business. The key is to find an effective way to handle our daily routine to stay focused and on track to achieve your goals in the shortest amount of time and the least amount of effort.
Tip #1: Break Goals Down into Daily Action Steps—and Track Them
Somewhere between running a business and having a personal life, it’s not uncommon for our goals to fall by the wayside. Sure, we write out a goal list, but it ends up at the bottom of a large stack of papers on our desk or filed away in a drawer. If you are not paying attention to your goals on a daily basis, you’re probably taking the long way around. Break goals down into daily action steps and put them into your daily calendar/diary/planner. Those action steps should be labeled high priority and handled as early on in the day as possible, or at the best time that leads to the best result. No excuses.
Tip #2: Remove Distractions and Interruptions from Your Life
Wasting time on low priority tasks is one of the most common sources of interrupting your success. Email, texting, social media, internet surfing, personal phone calls, chatting, etc. are time wasters for many of us. Work hours should be reserved for work. Distractions need to be a thing of the past and not the present if you want to achieve your goals in the time frame you have set. (Save email and internet for outside specific time blocks. Turn off the ringer on your phone or filter calls through a team member. Remove paperwork that you are not currently working on from your sight.) Create a system that works best for you—and stick to it. It’s key to consistently execute new habits that put you in the highest probability position to make better progress so you can create the business and life you want.
Tip #3: Be Aware of Self-Sabotaging Habits
No one is ever completely free of self-sabotaging habits, which is why it’s important to be aware of your tendencies. When you are aware of your sabotaging habits, you can easily spot them—and stop them—from distracting you from your success. Whether you create procrastination, overwhelm, emotional crisis, physical exhaustion, relationship drama or a host of other common habits, you’re creating self-sabotage. Achieving your goals becomes a lot easier when you can spot troublesome habits and consciously and quickly get yourself back on track.
Tip #4: Get Clear on the Why
When you get clear on why you’re working on any particular task, you can intellectually grasp whether you really need to be doing it at all or have someone else do it. Try this exercise: Ask yourself, “Why am I doing ___________________ (insert task)?” If your answer isn’t a good enough why, you know you shouldn’t be spending your valuable time on it.
Tip #5: Chunk Like-Tasks Together
Prep time and pre-task setup can eat up huge amounts of your time, so chunk like-tasks together. Another benefit to chunking? Reducing the “scatterbrain” effect. Multi-tasking and jumping between tasks reduces your brain’s ability to maintain focus, effectiveness and efficiency. Examples of chunking your time include: listening to voicemail/returning important phone calls, reading emails/replying to urgent inquiries, making prospecting calls, seeing clients in your office, creating marketing materials, coordinating off-site meetings with other appointments/errands, etc.
Along this same line of thinking, consider scheduling time to really prepare for the meeting on your calendar (5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes). This helps to ensure you have the right way of being to get the result you want and make sure you aren’t thinking of something you just finished or anything else. Also, schedule time after your meeting to complete any actions you need so you don’t have to try and remember them later in the day, two days later or at the end of the week. Get things done and then move on to the next meeting with a clear head.
Tip #6: Create a Block Schedule
Create hour blocks in your workday where you focus on a single task or a chunk of like-tasks. During that block of time, nothing else gets your attention, except the task or tasks in front of you. (Remove all other distractions by clearing your desk, turning off your phone, closing email, etc.) At the end of the block (1, 2, 3 or 4 hours), whatever was on your calendar is now finished. Let it go and move on to the next scheduled task.
Tip #7: Live Life by Appointment Only!
When someone calls in, have your assistant take a complete and in-depth message, and schedule a time you will return the call. Stop playing phone tag! Meet with your assistant and other team members by appointment only to reduce interruptions. One exception to this rule that I can think of is that the building is burning and someone needs to tell you to get out—you don’t need an appointment for that . . . As much as possible, live your life by face-to-face or phone appointments only. You’ll be amazed at how much more efficient you are by applying this one concept.
Tip #8: Ready, Set, Go!
For intense task completion, use a timer and set it for 5, 10, 15, 20 or 30 minutes. Using a timer allows you to create a game or healthy competition against the clock—giving your focus and energy an edge. You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish when you create a fun or somewhat competitive environment.
Tip #9: Do What You Do Best, Delegate the Rest
You should only be focusing on the tasks that you complete with the greatest efficiency, effectiveness and results. Everything else should be delegated to a team member, assistant or virtual assistant who produces the best results. Ask yourself, “Could someone else do what I’m doing if I just assigned it to them, told them how or gave them a process to get it done?” Too many entrepreneurs I talk to hold on to things way too long just because they have always done them. Successful entrepreneurs are good delegators!
Tip #10: Leverage Your Peak Energy
Each person has their own unique time of the day when they are at their peak energy. Whether you’re an early bird or night owl, tackle the tasks that require the most energy and focus to complete during your unique peak energy. You’ll get more done in less time with optimal results. Ask yourself, “When is the best time to get the best result for the various activities I do each day?”
Tip #11: Eat Healthy for Real Energy
Being an entrepreneur requires real energy; sugar, caffeine, and processed foods only offer a false energy and the afternoon energy crash can be severe. Reduce or eliminate sugar, caffeine and processed foods as much as possible, while boosting raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains to maintain steady and consistent high energy. Some studies suggest having a small snack or meal every 2-3 hours.
Review these 11 tips and decide which ones you will implement first for even greater success.