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7 Indispensable Time-Management Tips for Entrepreneurs

7 Indispensable Time-Management Tips for Entrepreneurs

Are you an entrepreneur who finds that they aren’t getting enough done in a single work day? It’s not unusual to find yourself behind the eight ball when you are trying to accomplish so much in a given day. The key to getting it together is improving your time-management skills. Check out these time management tips; before you know it, your efficiency and productivity will increase immensely.

1. Invest in building quality business systems.

One of the best and most overlooked methods of saving time is to avoid spending your day putting out fires. You can do this by investing the time and money up front to have quality business systems and procedures in place. This upfront investment, in essence, creates the infrastructure on which your business runs. You do this by establishing quality control methodologies, implementing appropriate training programs, investing in good technology, and setting up procedures for accomplishing both mission and non-mission critical tasks.

Unfortunately, far too many entrepreneurs focus on doing these things because there is not an immediate positive impact on the bottom line. Establishing quality business systems also doesn’t have a direct impact on growth — at least, that’s how many startup owners see things. In truth, once the initial investment has been made, the efficiency and streamlining that results can keep costs down and allow your team to focus on sales, growth, and research and development.

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2. Know when to delegate and outsource for faster growth.

Many entrepreneurs are more than used to wearing more than one hat. That’s great for when things are just getting started and funds aren’t available to hire staff or bring on consultants and vendors. Unfortunately, jumping into any role when a need arises no longer becomes an efficient use of your time once a certain level of growth has been achieved. This is something that many entrepreneurs never fully grasp. Instead, they see it as a point of pride that they are able to jump in and save the day.

There are some problems with this. First of all, just because you sit at the helm of your ship doesn’t mean that you have the talent and experience needed to get every job done that needs to be done. You’ve hired people, hopefully, because they are better and smarter than you in their area of expertise. Delegate out to them, and then let them do the jobs you have hired them to do. This leaves more time for you to focus on leadership, sales, and planning.

3. Long-term planning is essential to keep your current focus sharp.

Once you do learn how to delegate, you will find yourself free to focus on planning. This is great, but it brings up the next issue when it comes to effective time management: don’t spend too much time focusing on short-term planning. Instead, keep your eyes on the future.

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How does this help with time management? When you engage in long-term planning, you force yourself to keep your focus on the activities that need to be done to meet those long-term goals. As a result, you will be less likely to get caught up in busy work or time-wasting activities. Your mind will be too laser focused on working on tasks that will lead up to the long-term goals that you set. Remember that making plans required for scaling your business and making the most of your time will lead to growth.

4. Eliminate the common time-wasting habits.

Constantly checking social media, jumping in and out of your inbox, running to the break room for more coffee or water, “checking up on everyone’s progress,” checking fantasy league stats and scores, etc. are all examples of the common, time-wasting habits that absolutely destroy efficiency. Create personal policies for yourself that eliminate these time-wasting habits so that you can make better use of your time.

Here are a few things to try:

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  • If a website is too tempting, consider buying an app to block it during working hours
  • Check your email three times each day only
  • Buy a bigger coffee mug or water bottle
  • Give yourself 20 minutes during the work day to spend in the internet rabbit hole
  • Use email to check up on staffers or trust them to come to you if your intervention is needed
  • Make a list of “Things to do When There is Nothing to do.” Then, when you are bored work on that list

5. Set up airplane days.

No, an airplane day is not a day that is created to celebrate those large miracles of aerospace engineering. An airplane day is simply a day where you switch your phone into airplane mode so that notifications, texts, and phone calls are all blocked. Planning airplane days is a great way to ensure that you have the time to accomplish the kind of pen to paper, heads down tasks that are difficult to tackle when you are dealing with a constant influx of electronic disruptions.

Of course, as the boss, you cannot simply flip your phone into airplane mode. You have to plan for these things. Let your people know in plenty of time that you will be spending a day out of communications range, and be sure that you designate a go-to person in your absence. Then, enjoy a day of catching up on tasks and getting things cleared off of your desk.

6. Prioritize till it hurts.

Almost everybody could benefit from taking a scalpel to their daily to-do list. This is truer for entrepreneurs than anybody else. Don’t just create lists of things to do. Sort that list into priorities and do it ruthlessly. Start off by creating the list of things that must be accomplished today in order to avoid creating fires that will have to be managed and mitigated later on. Those are the highest-priority tasks, and they should get your primary focus. Then, create a list of mission critical tasks. These should be tasks that need to be accomplished that work toward the goals of sales, growth, or development. It is only after these goals are accomplished should you focus on lower priority goals such as administrivia.

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7. Schedule downtime too.

An entrepreneur on the brink of burnout is very unlikely to be able to make good use of their time. This is why the final tip on this list is to schedule downtime. Both your mind and body need rest, relaxation, stimulation, and fun to function properly. So, pursue hobbies, take vacations, meditate, and read. Take a lunch break. Know when it’s time to “punch your card” at the end of the day and get some rest.

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Elena Prokopets

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Last Updated on October 22, 2019

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

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Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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