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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Things Entrepreneurs Should Stop Doing

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Things Entrepreneurs Should Stop Doing

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

We talk a lot about daily habits and productivity. But what’s one thing entrepreneurs should STOP doing every day?

1. Talking About Themselves

Kim Kaupe

    Entrepreneurs tend to get so wrapped up in the pitching, convincing and selling of their day-to-day life that sometimes it becomes all they ever talk about. Being well-rounded and conversational will help you have rapport with others around you. While talking about yourself and your business is important, doing so constantly comes off as being self-centered and oblivious to the world around you.

    Kim Kaupe, ‘ZinePak

    2. Focusing on a To-Do List

    Tyler Arnold (1)

      The best leaders I know focus on building the right culture and energy in the office. Sitting in a corner and pounding out to-do items may feel productive, but don’t forget about doing the things that aren’t fully quantifiable. Helping teammates who may be having a bad morning or struggling with a project could be the single most valuable thing you do all day!

      Tyler Arnold, SimplySocial Inc.

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      3. Eating Pizza

      Andrew Angus

        When you head into the startup phase of your company, everything you used to do that was healthy is going to stop. You are going to put on weight. You are going to end up with too much stress and a back that is in constant pain. Don’t eat pizza. It will make it easier to get back in shape when you’re out of that phase.

        Andrew Angus, Switch Video

        4. Using Social Media Distractions

        Anthony Saladino

          Shut down all your personal social media distractions during the work day. Facebook, Instagram, Vine and Twitter will all be there after you complete your daily tasks. Many entrepreneurs don’t realize just how much time they waste reading and engaging on these mediums and also just how much it decreases their daily productivity. To succeed, use your time wisely.

          Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings

          5. Multitasking

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          Andrew Schrage

            Multitasking has its place in the business realm, but there are also times when it should be avoided. If you multitask two separate and very important projects, you can end up with two sets of dismal results. Know when to multitask and when to focus on a single task.

            Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

            6. Waiting for the Right Moment

            michael mogill

              Stop waiting for the right time, and just get things done. Define the one thing you can do today that will help grow your business and not just keep you busy.

              Michael Mogill, Crisp Video Group

               

              7. Attending Management Meetings

              David Ehrenberg

                Admittedly, management meetings are sometimes necessary and useful beasts. But a culture of meetings is ultimately just a time suck. Everyone has had that experience of waiting for a meeting to end so that real work can resume. To increase productivity, reduce management meetings and time in meetings in general. When you must meet, have a clear agenda and stick to it.

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                David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services

                8. Letting Interruptions Happen

                Maren Hogan

                  Interruptions are just a part of life, but I take steps to prevent them. It is so hard to refocus after multiple interruptions. I don’t even want to calculate how much time I lose to redirecting my attention several times a day. If it gets to be too much, I go into do-not-disturb mode. I close the door, only take scheduled calls and tell my staff that they can email me and I’ll get to them later.

                  Maren Hogan, Red Branch Media

                  9. Going out for Lunch

                  Rameet Chawla

                    The lunch hour is one of the most active times of the day and a great time to get work done. After work is when most socializing should be done. Instead of worrying about getting back to the office or getting work done before you dip out, meeting at the end of the day takes off the edge. You can drink without a conscience, leave the office behind and invite others to join to optimize your time.

                    Rameet Chawla, Fueled

                    10. Working on the Fly

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                    Fabian Kaempfer

                      One habit to break away from is working on the fly rather than with an agenda. With a startup, things will happen, and you can be pulled in different directions. Don’t make it a habit to make that the way you operate. Make it a point to be proactive rather than reactive.

                      Fabian Kaempfer, Chocomize

                      11. Pleasing Others First

                      Elizabeth Saunders

                        If you are allowing your time and energy to be diverted from your priority tasks simply to make professional acquaintances (e.g., individuals not in your inner circle) happy, then you’re not investing your time well. Focus on the people and activities that really matter, and you’ll be better off in the long run.

                        Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life E®

                        12. Emailing Coworkers

                        Saul Garlick

                          The biggest breakthrough at ThinkImpact has been the realization that we don’t need to email each other. We can use different tools to communicate. Our new favorite is called Slack . It allows you to communicate in one of three ways: via office-wide messages with a related subject, a direct message with a colleague privately or a private group of colleagues.

                          Saul Garlick, ThinkImpact

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                          Last Updated on December 9, 2019

                          7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

                          7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

                          The world has become a very distracting place, you don’t need me to tell you that. Where once we could walk out of our house or office and disappear into our own world with our own thoughts, we are now connected 24 hours a day to a network that’s sole purpose is to make us available to anyone and everyone at any time they choose to disturb us.

                          Of course, it is very easy to sit here and say all you have to do is turn off your electronic devices and just allow yourself several hours of quiet solitude; but the reality is far harder than that. There is an expectation that we are available for anyone whenever they want us.

                          However, if you do want to elevate yourself and perform at your best every day, to produce work of a higher quality than anyone expects and to regain control over what you do and when you will need to regain some control over your time, so you can focus on producing work that matters to you…

                          The good news: You do not have to become a recluse. All you need are a few simple strategies that will allow you enough flexibility in your day to stay focused to do the work that matters and still allow you to deal with other people’s crises and dramas.

                          Here are 7 ways you can stay focused and be less distracted.

                          1. Find out When You Are at Your Most Focused

                          According to research, brilliantly documented by Daniel Pink in his latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, our brains have a limited capacity to stay focused each day.[1]

                          From the moment we wake up to the time we turn in for the day, we are using up our brain’s limited energy resources and, depending on the time of day, we will be moving between strong concentration and low concentration.

                          This means that for most people, their optimum time for sustained concentration and focus will be soon after they wake up. For others, it could be later in the evening—a kind of second wind—but that is rare.

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                          Once you understand this, you can take time to learn when you are at your best and to protect that time on your calendar as much as possible. If you can, block it off and use that time for the work you need to do that requires the most concentration each day.

                          2. Get Comfortable Using ‘Do Not Disturb’ Mode

                          We have the ability to switch our electronic devices to do not disturb mode. Where all notifications are off and your phone or computer will not alert you to a new email or message.

                          Now after testing this function for a number of years, I can happily report that it does work.

                          When I sat down to write this article, I put all my electronic devices to do not disturb, closed down my email and began writing. I am safe in the knowledge that until this article is written, and I turn do not disturb off, there will be no interruptions or distractions.

                          Of course, it is not really about whether do not disturb works or not, it is whether you are willing to turn it on or not.

                          Most people believe they have to be constantly available for their boss or customers. This is not true at all. What has happened is because of your always available status, you have conditioned these people to turn to you first whenever they have a problem.

                          You are not actually helping them at all. You are preventing them from having to think for themselves and develop the skill of problem-solving. By not being so readily available, you help them a lot more.

                          What it comes down to is your boss and customers are going to be far more positive with you, if you deliver your work to the highest quality and on time than you being available 24/7. Trust me on that. I also tested that one.

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                          3. Schedule Focus Time Every Day

                          This technique is a lot easier than you may think.

                          First, you figure out when you are least likely to be disturbed. For me, that is between 6 and 9 am. for a lot of my clients, they find the first 90 minutes in the morning at their workplace is when they are not likely to be disturbed. This is important because you want to be building consistency.

                          Most people start their day by checking their email and other messages. While they are doing that, they are not going to be bothering you. Now there is no rule about when you should be checking your email. The chances are email is not going to be where you want to spend your most focused time, so you can decide to check your email at say 10:30 am.

                          Dedicate 30 minutes from 10:30 am to 11:00 am for email processing and use the first 90 minutes of your day for doing your most important work. You will surprise yourself by how much work you get done in that ninety minutes.

                          4. Plan Your Day the Night Before

                          One of the inevitabilities of life is there is always a plan for the day. The choice is whether the plan you have is a plan of your own making or not. If you don’t have a plan, then the day will take control of you. Other people’s priorities, urgencies and dramas will fill your day. As the late Jim Rohn said:

                          “Either you run the day or the day runs you.”

                          If you take control and make it a habit to plan out what you want to accomplish the next day before you go to bed, you will find yourself staying more focused on your work and be less likely disturbed.

                          Now when I say plan your day the night before, I do not mean you need to spend an hour or so planning and mapping out every minute of the day. Planning your day should only take you around 10 to 15 minutes and you only need to decide what 10 things you want to complete — 2 “must do” objective tasks and 8 “would like to do” tasks. What I call the 2+8 Prioritisation Technique:

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                          Do not be tempted to go beyond 10 tasks for the day. When you do that, you do not have enough flexibility in your day to handle crises and other unknown issues that will pop up throughout the day.

                          When you do not build in flexibility, you will soon stop planning your day. Only plan tasks that will have the biggest positive impact on your work and projects.

                          5. Learn to Say “No”

                          I am sure you’ve been told this before. We are wired to please and this results in us wanting to say yes to every opportunity that comes our way. The problem is we cannot do everything and every time you say “yes” to one opportunity, you are saying “no” to another opportunity. You cannot be in two places at the same time.

                          Jay Shetty shared an inspiring video on JOMO “Joy Of Missing Out”. Here’s the video:

                          Rather than allowing ourselves to be succumbed by FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out), we should replace that ‘fear’ with the “joy” of missing out. Because of our need to please, we say yes to things we really don’t want to do; yet when we do that, we miss out on doing things that bring us joy—creating something special, spending time educating ourselves and just having some quiet alone time with ourselves.

                          Learn to say “no” every time you get a notification to your phone. Ignore it. Learn to say “no” to your colleagues when they want to gossip. Learn to say “no” to volunteering when the thing you are being asked to volunteer for does not excite you. Just learn to say “no”.

                          By saying “no” to opportunities, distractions and interruptions, you are saying yes to better and more meaningful things. Things you do want to focus your attention on.

                          6. Create a Distraction-Free Environment for Your Focused Time

                          This has been possibly the most powerful tip I learned when it comes to focusing on what is important. Have a place where you do only focused, high-concentration work.

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                          Now this place needs to be clean and only have the tools you need to do your work. If it is writing a report or preparing a presentation, then it needs a table and a computer, nothing more. Files, paper and other detritus that accumulates on and around people’s desks need to go. A clean, cool and well-lit environment is going to do a lot more for your focus and concentration than anything else.

                          The dining table in our home is where I go for undisturbed, focussed work. I take my laptop or iPad, and only have my writing app open. Everything is closed down and the computer is in “do not disturb” mode. There is nothing else on the dining table just my computer and my water tumbler.

                          Because that is my designated focus area, I only go there to work when I have something that needs total focus and concentration. I am there right now!

                          7. Be Intentional

                          The reality is, if you absolutely need to get something done then you need to be intentional. You have to have the intention of sitting down, focusing and doing the work.

                          There’s no magic tricks or apps that will miraculously do all your work for you. You need to intentionally set aside time for undisturbed focus work and do it. Without that intention, you can read as many of these articles as you like and you still will not get the work done.

                          It is only when you intentionally set yourself up to do the work, turn off all notifications and do whatever it takes to avoid distractions will the work get done.

                          The Bottom Line

                          The strategies and tips I shared in this post will go a long way to helping you become better at focusing on the important things in your life. No matter what they are, you are in control of your time and what you do with it and where you spend it, never give that control away to anyone else.

                          Protect it and it will be your servant. Give that control away and it will become your master and that is not a good place to be.

                          More About Staying Focused

                          Featured photo credit: Manny Pantoja via unsplash.com

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