In today’s hectic information-filled world, it is hard to find the time to relax and enjoy life. Whether you are a 40-hours-a-week employee or an overworked entrepreneur with his or her own company, we all struggle with a number of physiological issues, varied stressors, and all types of anxieties. While attempts to becoming a healthier entrepreneur might escape you, it is no surprise that you will face some challenging difficulties, such as time management and eliminating habitual time-wasting routines.
If you are constantly feeling overwhelmed with your seemingly endless to-do lists, maybe it’s time to look over your daily work routine. Here are 3 life hacks that can help transform your work habits.
Use The Automated Time Waster Test
Co-Authored by both Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, this first life hack comes from their book, Think Like a Freak. This concept is very simple and can be added to any work routine. If you have employees, ask them to bring a pack of brown-colored M&M’s to work. This helps to check how good they are with following instructions and paying attention to details.
The following true scenario perfectly illustrates why M&Ms work well.
The rock band Van Halen’s live show boasted a colossal stage, booming audio, and spectacular lighting. All this required a great deal of structural support, along with electrical power and the like. Thus, in the 53-page rider to their already-existing music contract, they gave point-by-point instructions to ensure that no one got killed by a collapsing stage or a short-circuiting light tower. But how could Van Halen be sure that the local promoter in each city had read the whole thing and done everything properly?
Cue the brown M&M’s. Within the contract, a provision that all brown M&M’s should be removed from candy bowls was included. As lead singer David Lee Roth tells it, he would immediately go backstage to check out the bowl of M&M’s. If he saw brown ones, he knew the promoter hadn’t read the rider carefully and that “we had to do a serious line check” to make sure that the more important details hadn’t been botched either.
You can use this simple idea when screening potential vendors, sub-contractors, freelance applicants, and more. You will save yourself tons of productive time by letting your “garden” (aka any situation involving other people) weed itself without your direct input.
Solidify Systems For Both Work And Personal Life
A good company is always in need of solid systems set in place in order to work effectively and efficiently. This can also be said about personal work systems created by yourself. This can allow you to minimize distractions and reduce your workloads.
David Allen suggests to:
- Utilize to-do lists to organize tasks onto other physical mediums.
- Break larger tasks into smaller, actionable productive practices.
- Avoid “burning out” by accomplishing smaller collective tasks.
Properly scheduling your time is also a vital and crucial personal skill. Having an employee-shared calendar with blocks of time dedicated to certain productions can help incorporate less stress when completing tasks. You can even schedule available hours for yourself so that employees know when to confer with you if necessary.
Choose Your Battles Wisely
Whether expected or not, daily challenges will occur during the course of your company’s lifespan. From updating routine billing equipment to securing your company’s sensitive data, there’s always something. However, you as an entrepreneur should choose your battles wisely. Help reduce minor work complications by teaching your team how to solve problems themselves rather than relying on you to give your team immediate guidance.
A recent experiment conducted by Ryan Honeyman examined his consistent habit of checking his work email. Reducing his interaction with his work email to just once a week on Monday afternoons has yielded some very interesting results.
Ryan noted that:
- Problems tended to answer themselves via conversations between other employees.
- There was a 30%-40% increase in efficiency towards more pressing tasks.
- He felt less stressed and better rested.
- There were improved relationships between himself, his business relationships, and his employees.
While this experiment might seem a bit too on the extreme side, it does provide a great illustration as to why leaders should reduce their mentality of “always on and available,” which is not a necessity to be a good competent company leader. Each of us in our leadership role has only a finite amount of time. While we may be tempted to battle through every conflict because we feel we are “right,” battles can take an enormous amount of time and personal energy that would be better spent doing something else. Choosing our battles wisely may actually make us much more effective in winning those battles that are important to us. Selecting those situations where the consequences really matter to us will allow us to do a better job of preserving our energy, relationships, and our peace of mind. To do this, we need to carefully assess each situation and seriously reflect on the hacks listed above.
Featured photo credit: Flickr/highwaysengland via flickr.com