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12 Super Productivity Secrets Every Entrepreneur Must Know

12 Super Productivity Secrets Every Entrepreneur Must Know

Frustrating isn’t it?

You work extremely hard everyday, but the rate of things added to your to-do list are faster than what you get done.

It feels like you’re never going to get ahead no matter what.

You thought everything was going to be done by the end of the day but you still have a few more “to-dos” to take care off. It’s 12 a.m. and you’re dead tired, so you add them to tomorrow’s to-do list and you head to bed.

Deep inside, you envy those millionaires and billionaires who get their work done and also spend plenty of time with their families—something you only dream of.

You think that they just happen to have some sort of super powers that you lack and there’s no way to solve it—so you’re doomed for life!

Actually, it has nothing to do with super powers OR natural talent. It’s the secret methods that they use that makes them different. And you can learn to become just as productive as them—and more.

1. Throw away your to-do list.

It happens to you doesn’t it?

You have more stuff on that list than the hours in the day. And to feel better about yourself, you do the easiest tasks and leave the hard long tasks for later. The only problem is, in the evening you’re tired so you procrastinate on the big tasks. All because you wanted to look at a short list. In fact that’s just one of the reasons you shouldn’t be working from your to-do list in the first place.

Productivity experts including the world’s billionaires don’t use to-do lists, they use calendars to schedule their tasks. Don’t believe me? Look for yourself.

I’m not big on to-do lists. Instead, I use e-mail and desktop folders and my online calendar.”

—Bill Gates

Even Elon Musk, Kevin O’leary and many more run their days from a calendar.

To-do lists have many problems. Some of them are:

  • It’s tempting to write a long list of tasks that you won’t be able to find time for.
  • It doesn’t account for time, so you misjudge the amount of time it takes to finish your list and therefore keep adding more throughout the day.
  • You procrastinate on what you hate and do the tasks you enjoy, burning your energy on low-priority tasks in exchange for high-priority tasks and that’s holding your business backwards.

On the other hand, calendars are:

  • Time-conscious, so you know exactly how long each task should take therefore avoid cramping in too many tasks in a day. It’ll force you to eliminate the unimportant stuff.
  • Easier to manage since your day will be written down in front of you.
  • Most importantly, motivate you to do the work in time and within the time frame; otherwise the whole day is ruined.

So that’s the number 1 secret that you need to apply if you want to see any change in your life.

Now the question is, how do you use a calendar and what calendar should you use?

There are two types of calendars out there:

  • Printed
  • Electronic

So which one’s better?

It’s an easy guess. The electronic one tends to be better because:

  • You can automatically put your daily tasks on repeat and save time having to write them every day.
  • You can carry it with you at all times (in your smart phone or any other device).
  • You save paper and the environment.

The best electronic calendar to use is Google Calendar.

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Now for the real question: how to use a calendar?

  1. Well for starters, there’s an excellent tutorial for Google Calendar on Youtube.
  2. Once you’ve watched it, you should now understand how it works. So open up Google Calendar.
  3. Now move the tasks from your to-do list and put them as events on the calendar. Make sure you assign enough time for each task. The default is 1 hour, so make sure to reduce it for tasks that require less time.
  4. You’re all set. Make sure to referesh the Google Calendar app if you made the edits from a computer.

2. Don’t work on urgent tasks first.

A lot of people think urgent means high priority. Although sometimes true, that’s not always the case.

So what is urgent? Urgent is people’s way of telling you to get their stuff done first. It can also come from people who worry and have low-tolerance levels or bad judgment with priorities.

Ok, so what exactly is a high priority task?

There’s an excellent matrix by MindTools that shows the four kinds of tasks you will encounter. Effort on the X-axis and Impact on the Y-axis.

Action-Priority-Matrix

    Listed in order from high to low:

    • Major Projects are what you should focus on first thing in the morning while you’re on maximum energy. They require the most effort and they give the highest rewards, they include whatever hard work that leads to your startup’s success or puts money in your pocket.
    • Quick Wins are tasks that have high impact but require less effort and that’s why they’re called quick wins. You can do these after you’ve completed the major projects.
    • Fill Ins are low value tasks that don’t need much effort. You do these to fill in your free time or you outsource them.
    • Thankless Tasks are those tasks that don’t matter much to the success of your company but require a lot of effort to do. They are thankless because the efforts you put in get you little to no reward, these must be outsourced when possible.

    Remember these when you’re creating your schedule on the calendar.

    3. Make time for email and social media.

    Contrary to the “don’t check email or social media except once a day” advice that’s been going around, experts such as Kevin Kruse (who interviewed 9 billionaires,13 Olympic Athletes, 29 Straight-A Students, and 239 Entrepreneurs) say that the most effective method to manage email is by implementing “The 321Zero System”.

    Here is how The 321Zero System works:

    Schedule 3, 21-minute sessions on your calendar to process them (morning, noon, night).

    Empty your inbox in that time frame.

    Although his advice doesn’t include social media, it can be included with today’s smartphone addict people who prefer sending WhatsApp messages rather than emails.

    So instead of assigning 21 minutes for email you can assign 30 minutes for both email and social media (15 minutes for each). That way, you get to spread your replies to messages and notifications throughout the day instead of once a day, which isn’t practical in this day and age.

    If you want to take email management to the next level you can read Kevin Kruse’s full article on how millionaires manage their email.

    4. Have super focus.

    A study conducted by Professor Gloria Mark found that after a distraction it takes an average of 23 minutes to completely regain your focus!

    So what does that mean?

    Well, let’s say your spouse comes through the door and interrupts you for just “two seconds” which usually takes a minute or two—maybe five.

    What seemed to your spouse like a two minute interruption turned out costing you 25 minutes of focus time!

    And that is why you don’t let ANYTHING disturb you at all costs.

    So how do you gain super focus until everything else fades into the background?

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    Simply by making a few adjustments:

    • Work in a silent room.
    • Clear your desk and only leave what you need at reach.
    • Put your phone on silent (not vibrate) or flight mode then place it flat on its face so you don’t see the screen light up or even better, put it in another room.
    • Hang a “Do not disturb” sign on your door and lock it. Let everyone know that you want to be left alone.
    • Turn your desk towards a boring plain wall. The last thing you need is the mesmerizing view through the window or coloful wallpaper.
    • Work in periods of 25 to 90 minutes and have a 10–30 minute break between each session.
    • Stay well hydrated. Keep a bottle of water next to you.

    If you want to take your focus training to the next level then I recommend you read Laser-Sharp Focus. A No-Fluff Guide to Improved Concentration, Maximised Productivity and Fast-Track to Success by Joanna Jast.

    5. Let someone else do it.

    This may sound counter-intuitive; isn’t this supposed to be about you getting work done?

    Well yeah, but you can’t do everything on your own. You’ve got the same 24 hours as everyone else and you’re obviously not an expert at everything.

    Things like accounting or logo design can take up a lot of time. These kinds of tasks should just be outsourced if they take up too much of your time and you can find someone cheap to do them.

    I’ve seen so many authors waste half of their time on designing their books when they could have given the job to someone on fiverr for a measly $10.

    Places like fiverr, upwork, freelancer, etc. are good places to find book designers, web developers, accountants, editors, and just about anything you can think of.

    So instead of wasting your time on things like book designs that can take hours to do, outsource them. Focus on tasks that create the most value and the ones you’re good at, like writing.

    6. Don’t plan the night before.

    Many entrepreneurs give the advice that you should plan your day the night before. You’ve probably seen it all over the Internet.

    But after a long day of making decisions your mental ability to make more decisions decreases. According to research done in a court room, judges were more likely to give a favorable ruling in the morning compared to later on in the day.

    The reason behind this is because your willpower is like a muscle, and it gets tired after making decisions. For that reason, making planning decisions at night isn’t a good idea.

    Planning is vital for optimal performance. Without a plan, you’re likely to procrastinate rather than execute your plan.

    A solid plan is time and energy consuming. That’s why you should plan for the whole week rather than spend time each night or morning planning your day.

    A good time to create your schedule would be the day before your work week (Sunday morning if your work week starts on Monday).

    You may have to make some minor tweaks before you go to bed and that’s totally fine, as long as it isn’t a major planning decision.

    While planning your week follow this guideline: The morning is for high-priority tasks, as we mentioned previously.

    7. Do average work.

    Are you a perfectionist? If you’re not, then good for you. If you are, then you’ve got yourself a serious problem. Because to you, nothing is ever finished.

    You focus on every single detail and try to make your work “perfect.” But I can assure you that nothing ever is perfect.

    Humans cannot create perfect.

    Even the Rolce Royce phantom, a masterpiece, isn’t perfect. It is an excellent product, but not perfect. It can still break, yet it is very durable.

    But as a young startup your products don’t need to be anything near that. Your aim is to launch a minimal viable product that just does the job and then keep improving it based on feedback—you know, the lean startup way.

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    As long as the thing you’re doing works, then it is complete! End of Story.

    8. Learn the hidden shortcuts.

    Sometimes it’s just all about moving faster and cutting corners. Lazy people like me love this one, and it’s the simplest of them all, yet many of us don’t take advantage of it.

    Have you ever thought about learning the shortest route before driving? Learning how to read faster? Or just finding a way to be able to do something in a faster way?

    For starters, not many people really learn how to read or type faster. They think it’ll take them a lot of time and end up wasting more time than it would take to read slowly. Other people are just lazy.

    Reading and writing are daily activities for entrepreneurs, and that’s why I’ll give you a few resources to improve your speed.

    For reading:

    Spreeder.com

    Speed Reading by Tim Ferriss

    For Typing:

    Keybr.com

    Ratatype.com

    Typeracer.com

    Here are some more tips:

    • Dentists recommend brushing teeth twice a day, for 5 minutes if you have a manual toothbrush and 2–3 minutes if you have an electric toothbrush. For that reason, get an electric toothbrush.
    • For driving you could drive faster, but then you may get into an accident which wastes time and your safety; in that case, just make driving time productive by listening to a podcast or lecture. Same goes with the rest of your transportation or idle time, make the most of it by listening to something beneficial.
    • If you’re still in college and you want to impress your parents or just get good grades in the fastest way possible then apply the methods we have talked about in this post and tackle questions in a strategic manner. You do not need to answer every question in an assignment or test to get an ‘A.’ Work hard on the parts that are worth the highest marks and just quickly do the low mark questions. Don’t spend the same amount of time on a 1-mark question as you would with a 10-mark question.

    There’s a shortcut to almost everything. You never know: you may end up creating a product that saves people some time. People pay for time -saving tools that make their lives easier. Always ask yourself, how can I do this faster?

    9. Schedule to do The One Push-Up Challenge.

    Because our willpower is limited, whenever we set a big goal such as workout for 30 minutes, we tend to get lazy. It just seems like too big of a task to complete. However, if you were told to do only one push-up, you wouldn’t need much willpower to get up and do it. The whole thing would feel like a joke. One push-up? I’ll do that right now, and since you’re already in the push up position why not do a few more? And since your heart is pumping why not do a few squats? Before you know it, you’ve done your 30 minute workout.

    You can apply this to everything in your life such as:

    • Reading
    • Writing
    • Cleaning
    • Research

    Just give yourself a ridiculous goal such as wash only 3 dishes, and before you know, your kitchen’s sink area is shining clean.

    This was inspired by Stephen Guise, author of Mini Habits.

    10. Sleep like a bear.

    You know what’s heartbreaking?

    The worst part about sleep deprivation isn’t the risk of getting diabetes. It’s not the risk of heart attack, stroke, or obesity. It’s not even the inability for your body to remove toxic proteins from your brain cells (although that’s bad).

    No, the worst part is that sleep deprivation costs the U.S $63 billion annually in lost productivity. I mean, that’s a load of cash.

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    If you can’t get your 7–8 hours of sleep, then take power naps throughout the day. It’s no wonder Google has sleep pods for employees. There’s no point of you working if you’re fatigued.

    11. Use cloud storage.

    How many times have you spent hours editing a document only to find out it’s the wrong version?

    Or even worse: how many times have you sent the wrong document to your team member, boss, or professor?

    And not to forget the number of files you have for the same assignment that looks something like this; assignment-1, assignment-1-draft, assignment-1-final, which bogs up your computer’s memory and takes a few minutes to figure out the latest version.

    You probably felt like smashing the screen when that happened.

    The amount of time wasted could be saved actually working on the document.

    Good news for you, you can solve your problem by using cloud storage.

    You can work on the document online to avoid duplicates and looking for files. And you can share the link to your document with a team member or boss. If you have to manually upload a file, then just download the final version with ease.

    Some cloud storage services include Google Drive, DropBox, Box and OneDrive.

    12. Don’t waste your time networking.

    Networking is important but not if it hinders you from working on what matters in your business. When it comes to choose between working on something important or attending a networking event, then work always triumphs.

    A good rule of thumb is to attend only 1–2 hours of networking events during a week. Of course this depends on the amount of work you have and the impact networking has on your business, for most experienced entrepreneurs with a big network the amount of networking needed will be less.

    Now Imagine looking at your to-do list, except this time you’ve got each task scheduled on your calendar and you know exactly when you’ll finish each task.

    Instead of stressing on the tasks you couldn’t finish on that day, you can now sleep in peace because you know exactly when each task will be done.

    Not only that. You also won’t procrastinate on long tiring tasks anymore because you know how to make a long task seem like a joke by following the one push-up challenge.

    All because you’ve implemented the methods presented in this post.

    Guess what: you’re not the same person after reading this post. You now know the secrets to achieving insane productivity!

    No more lost focus, no more doing other people’s “urgent” tasks and you know exactly how to deal with email and social media compared to the average Tom, Dick and Harry.

    Sound crazy? It’s not.

    You’ve got your roadmap now—now you need to follow it.

    Your new productive self awaits.

    Featured photo credit: Couch Potato/Banalities via flickr.com

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    Published on January 7, 2021

    How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

    How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

    Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

    If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

    Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

    You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

    When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

    Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

    In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

    Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

    3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

    Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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    1. Respect deadlines
    2. Understand the work-flow plan
    3. Build in time to mess up

    1. Respect Deadlines

    Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

    One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

    2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

    Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

    3. Build in Time to Mess Up

    You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

    Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

    For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

    Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

    This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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    Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

    Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

    Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

    When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

    12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

    Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

    1. Learn to Listen Well

    You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

    Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

    2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

    Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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    3. Follow Rules

    Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

    4. Take Notes

    Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

    5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

    When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

    As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

    6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

    If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

    7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

    English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

    8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

    Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

    9. Minimize Distractions

    It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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    If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

    10. Take Breaks

    It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

    11. Make Time for Reflection

    At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

    12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

    This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

    Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

    Final Thoughts

    Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

    When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

    More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

    Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

    Reference

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