Time is an entrepreneur’s rarest commodity. There is always something that we should be doing conflicting with whatever it is we are doing. There is simply not enough time to get through the myriad of things requiring and demanding our attention.
And that is why Mega-Productivity is a skill that all entrepreneurs and business owners must acquire if they are to be successful. And that success extends across business and across life. After all, even if our businesses are tremendously successful, they become meaningless when our personal lives lie in tatters.
The challenge with most people is that they are extraordinarily busy. But, when you ask them what they are achieving that really matters, it is precious little. If business is all about ROI or return on investment, time is all about ROE – return on energy. Because time is such a precious commodity, we must ensure that every one of the 1440 minutes we experience each day gives us a return.
1. Establish what you want
Zig Ziglar said “Aim at nothing and you’ll hit it every time”.
So, unless you know exactly what it is you desire for your life and business, you are likely to pursue anything shiny, and waste a lot of time in the process.
You have to figure out what, when you are 90 and sitting in your rocking chair reflecting back on a life well lived, will stand out for you as the things you are most proud of.
The temptation is to select what you think you can achieve. That’s great! But also include the goals that may be a little tougher to get to. You may not know quite how to get there – yet – but unless you start taking some action towards their achievement, they will forever and always remain merely a dream.
Once you have identified the overall goals and dreams, you must prioritise them. Number them in order of priority. Be cautious here to think through your list of priorities carefully. Remember that you can only juggle so many balls, and whilst, when dropped, some will bounce, some balls will break. Make sure that your choice is made with full awareness of the consequences, and the time that you have available.
2. Write a list of how you intend to get there
This is a process whereby you detail the action steps you’ll need to take in order to achieve your overall personal goals and business objectives. Start with the goal that you labelled as number 1, and work through each until you have created action steps for all.
If you have set a goal that is particularly challenging, you may not know the steps that you need to take beyond perhaps the first ten. That’s OK for now. Once those first ten steps have been taken, the next ten will reveal themselves. At that point, write those ten steps down in a list, and keep repeating the process.
3. Use your most productive time productively
Most people wake up in the morning, and hit the office only to focus on the 100 e-mails that have arrived in their Inbox overnight. If you are energised and focused in the morning, your time could be far better utilised.
Identify when you are most productive during the day, and block that time off to get one of your priority tasks completed. I always do my most important tasks first thing in the morning.
The reason is that unless I complete them first, I get caught up in the demands of the day and find myself out of time and out of energy. If you run this risk, then commit to completing your number one important (not urgent) task first thing each day. Do not move onto anything else unless and until that priority task has been completed.
4. Leverage the productivity curve
We have all had experience with the productivity curve, even if we are not directly aware of it. It goes like this: When we start something, it takes us a while to get traction.
We need to figure out what we intend to do, and how to do it. We waste quite a bit of time being unproductive in this phase. It is only after some focused effort that we start having an impact and moving forward in an upward direction.
If we give ourselves a sufficient amount of uninterrupted and focused time, we can start achieving Mega-Productivity, and get into ‘the zone’.
However, precious few of us get to this point when we are in our work environment. When we are just at the point of starting to gain productivity, we are called to our next meeting, are distracted by an incoming e-mail or message, or by a member of our team.
After we have dealt with the distraction, and return to our work, we revert back to the point of negative productivity. We need to figure out what we’ve done, what we still need to do, and get our train of thought together before we can move forward once again.
You can imagine that many small interruptions have the result of us losing massive productivity. Something that may have taken us 30 minutes to complete ends up taking ten times as long. And given repeated interruptions, that’s no exaggeration.
You have to create the habit of booking out blocks of time in your diary – time that is long enough for you to achieve the focus that drives Mega-Productivity, and enables you to complete your most important tasks without interruption. This is an absolute essential step in accelerating your achievement of your goals.
5. Get your e-mails under control
E-mails are a killer of productivity. If you are not careful, you can spend an entire day on e-mail, and not complete a single important task.
Identify two times in the day when your energy is low. Book a 30 or 60 minute slot in the morning, and again in the afternoon.
Dedicate that time to reading, responding and completing your e-mails. Do not look at e-mails at any other time. If there is something of significant importance, you can be assured that someone will actually phone you.
When it comes to working through your e-mails, apply ‘one touch management’. The temptation is to open an e-mail, read it, and think – I’ll get back to this one. That’s a productivity no-no.
You’ve just invested a minute or two reading this e-mail, so deal with it in its entirety now. Do whatever needs to be done now to complete the task at hand.
7. Mega-Productivity is a mindset
Consider that if you invest R1 every day for the rest of your life, what an incredible investment you’ll have as a result of the cumulative interest you’ll earn. This is in fact what you are doing in your life and your business. Whatever actions you undertake today must repay you in return on energy tomorrow, and next year.
Consider therefore the implications of leaving a Must Do task incomplete. You can never re-earn the cumulative interest you’ve lost. Adopt that mindset for every important task you have listed. Make completing your Must Do and Important to do list a habit. Your life will change as a result.
6 Steps To Go From Procrastinating To Productive
As an entrepreneur, practice saying to yourself, “I will not do the work of my smart, very talented and motivated team.”
As entrepreneurs and business owners, we have tasks on our list that we’d rather not do. So, we keep moving the goal post farther down the field and do almost anything we can to avoid those distasteful jobs.
Personally, I don’t like to get involved in extra paperwork or monthly expense reports. Other founders have their own least favorite activities.
But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because there’s an obvious solution: delegation. As a matter of fact, I created a motto along these lines: I will not do the work of my smart, very talented and motivated team.
My job, after all, is to concentrate on the bigger parts of the business, like generating revenue. And while there are other such tasks that are necessary to operating a business, I might be avoiding them too because they slow me down. So, I again delegate them to the team.
I guess in a way, we’re all capable of being procrastinators.
According to a 2013 survey by salary.com, 69 percent of survey respondents said they wasted time at work on a daily basis – a 5 percent increase from the previous year. Thirty-four percent of respondents estimated they routinely wasted 30 minutes or less each day; 24 percent said they wasted between 30 and 60 minutes; and 11 percent said they wasted hours every day.
As a business owner, I could see how those numbers might send my fellow owners’ blood pressure through the roof, but my own response would be more practical: I’d pursue tools, tricks and techniques to minimise procrastination and maximize productivity.
Here are a few of those techniques:
Don’t overwhelm yourself
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work on your plate, meetings and deadlines. Lately, I’ve been focusing on launching new avenues for C-Suite TV, and it can be overwhelming sometimes.
When tasks seem insurmountable, here’s one way to lessen that burden: Get out your “to-do” list. Then, instead of writing down that big task as one huge thing, break it down. Breaking a big task into multiple line items makes it more manageable. You have your end goal, but by reducing it to its smaller components, you get a clearer picture of what you need to do.
Crossing off the smaller parts of the larger task gives you a sense of accomplishment you wouldn’t have if you tackled the massive task all at once.
Flip the script
I don’t care who you are: Whether you’re a worker, a manager or a CEO, you’re just like everyone – and we all hate doing certain tasks. So why not flip the script?
Bite the bullet, kiss the frog – whatever you want to call it: Put that task at the top of your to-do list that day. You’ll eliminate the task quickly and move on to the rest of your day. Not to mention, you’ll have a bigger sense of accomplishment knowing that you’ve steam-rolled the largest obstacle you had awaiting you.
Everyone wants to make a good impression and put his or her best foot forward at work. Procrastination comes not from the inability to get the job done, but from fear and insecurity. Being unsure how to perform a specific task makes us fear failure and being seen in a negative light by the boss.
I always tell my team that, “No one’s going to die.” What’s the worst thing that can happen if a specific task isn’t perfect? I might get mad if the task is not completed within the given deadline, but not if it merely needs to be tweaked. Many times, the worst conversations happen inside our own heads and we let that imaginary conversation rule our other decisions. That’s when we make mistakes.
If you’re worried about your work quality, allocate a set amount of time each day to complete (or revise) parts of the project. It’s possible to perfect a task without obsessing over it and losing focus. That’s when you know it’s time to let go of the project and focus on other things. Say it with me: No one will die.
Kill the squirrels (or distractions)
It’s easy to procrastinate with the million distractions we have every day. According to a survey by Stop Procrastinating, 68 percent of Americans surveyed said they’d been distracted from their work duties by checking their emails, browsing the web or engaging in social media. And that was a 9 percent increase from a year before. Of that 68 percent, 39 percent said distractions cost them a whole hour a day.
Sure, it’s tempting to constantly check your Facebook or Twitter feeds, but here’s a radical concept: Log out of your social media accounts for a few hours every day.
Instead, focus on your tasks and nothing else. Do whatever it takes to get into the “zone,” to accomplish your goal. Some people at my office use headphones to muffle outside noise. I block out time on my calendar, which my employees have access to, and dedicate that time to a specific task I need to accomplish. I may even specify “no phone calls” to ensure I stay in my zone.
Be a good time manager
To transition from procrastinator to proactive leader requires organization on your part, from your mindset to your schedule. It’s hard to be organized when you feel you’re juggling multiple things, but to succeed, you must learn to juggle. Deciding how much time to dedicate to each task makes you more efficient.
For some of us busy executives, even our down time needs to be scheduled.
Recently, I attended the Rocky Mountain Economic Summit, where I mingled with top economists, business leaders and policymakers. I had a busy schedule, interviewing a top CEO. But I also managed to schedule down time. Being from South Dakota, I enjoy the outdoors so I scheduled some fly fishing time – away from technology, emails and phone calls.
If you’re a good time manager, you’ll have time for everything, including play time. It takes some dedication and discipline, but it’s not impossible.
Remember that the early bird gets the worm
I operate on little sleep. As any workaholic will tell you, when you go to bed at night, you can’t wait to start your day the next morning. Indeed, dawn is the most productive part of the day, according to this Wall Street Journal article. That hour of the morning brings minimal distractions, no email and hardly anyone on social media.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, starts his day at 3:45 a.m.. Richard Branson likes to “sleep in” until 5 a.m., and even my friend and fellow entrepreneur Peter Shankman gets up before it’s light out. As a business owner, entrepreneur and keynote speaker, I’ve done my fair share of early mornings; You’d be surprised how much you can get done by the time everyone else walks in the office.
The one takeaway here is that in order to make a successful transition from procrastinating to productive, you have to be disciplined, motivated and focused: disciplined enough to curb distractions, motivated enough to want to reach your end goal and focused enough to execute a plan that works for you.
We’re all different, so there’s no magic bullet solution for procrastination. But if you can build a plan that works for you, work the plan.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
(Infographic) The Organisational Tactics, Work Habits And Routines Of The Most Successful People
Take a look at how some of the most successful people set up their workspace.
How your workspace is set up can help or hinder your productivity. So what makes for a great workspace?
For inspiration, see how people such as Elon Musk and Oprah Winfrey organise their desks and surroundings. Of course, different tactics work for different people. So to maximise productivity, find what best suits you.
While many people believe a clean desk will provide clarity and decrease stress, that’s not what Albert Einstein thought. In fact, Einstein was a supporter of the messy desk, having once said:
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?”
Mark Zuckerberg prefers to have the same desk as every other Facebook employee. Studies have shown that open floor plans can encourage creativity and productivity – especially if you’re rubbing elbows with the CEO.
Another option is the standing desk. According to research, productivity can get a 10 percent boost when using a standing desk. An avid user of the standing desk was author Ernest Hemingway, who put his typewriter on top of a bookshelf in his bedroom.
Check out National Pen’s infographic below to see the desk styles of some of the most famous people history to today.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
11 Ways To Maximise Every Part Of Your Day
From their morning routine to being productive at the office, entrepreneurs share how to get the most out of your time all day.
Want more ideas?
Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything today. However, you might be happy to know, there are some simple things you can do to maximise your time and productivity. For starters, have a set routine – that could be a specific time to get coffee in the morning, a brief workout or a process for catching up on emails.
As part of Entrepreneur‘s “Guide to Getting More Done Every Day,” check out these 11 productivity secrets from successful entrepreneurs.
Have a routine
“I have a set routine I never break: Get up, walk to a coffee shop, have an espresso. It gets my brain ready to prepare for everything I am doing that day. When I’m home, I take my son, and when I’m traveling, I get to explore a new place.” – Patrick Quinlan, CEO, compliance management software company Convercent
Exercise in the morning
“At 6 a.m., five days a week, I ride for an hour on a stationary trainer. The meditative state I achieve while working out always sparks new ideas, so I’ve started capturing those thoughts after my rides, either with Siri notes or old-fashioned pen and paper.” – Neil Grimmer, founder and CEO, personalised nutrition brand Habit
Get ready in the morning
“The Keurig is set to go on at 5:30. I like to have my coffee and check emails before I wake up my children for school. I use this precious time to organise orders, plan warehouse priorities for the day and check in on production. This allows me to go into my day feeling proactive and ready.” – Sara Stein, founder, gift brand Sisters of Los Angeles
Have Wi-Fi everywhere you go
“Great wi-fi is key – I’ve even brought my Eeros with me on trips where I’m staying in Airbnbs. If I’m in a hotel, I make sure there’s a decent gym and a great café nearby. Having a small routine on the road helps it feel less foreign.” – Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and Initialized Capital
“Fake [listening to] headphones. I have these obnoxiously large, white-and-red headphones that go over my entire ear and can be spotted from miles away. Sometimes I just put them on even if there is no music playing as a signal to leave me alone. Works like a charm. Until my team reads this!”– Scott Tannen, co-founder and CEO, bedding company Boll & Branch
Block ‘work time’
“Block ‘work time.’ My co-founder Alex and I both carve out 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on our schedules every day and protect it as best we can, so we can get through pressing items and avoid being a bottleneck to the team on outstanding questions.” – Jordana Kier, cofounder and co-CEO, natural tampon company LOLA
“Everyone steps out of their office at 9 a.m. and shares a piece of good news. It can be professional or personal, as long as it’s office-appropriate. It gets team members into a shared space and allows us to start the day on a high note while getting to know each other and talk about successes.” – Monica Guzman, COO, public relations firm Konnect Agency
Create fun office rituals
“For our internal executive meetings, if one or more people arrive late, they have to buy lunch for the next meeting. This keeps people on time and gamifies the meeting. We laugh about it with each other every time.” – John Rubey, CEO, content provider Fathom Events
Take advantage of your commute
“If you commute to work on a train, with limited connectivity, as I do, think of one meaty email you’ve been avoiding writing and give yourself the length of the commute to really dig in. It makes the trip go faster and lets you start your day with a great sense of accomplishment.” – James Hirschfeld, co-founder and CEO, stationery brand Paperless Post
Schedule short meetings
“We schedule regular 20-minute walking meetings with our colleagues. The limited window forces function and encourages both parties to be efficient in their communications. It’s surprising how many issues can be resolved or clarified in that tight timeframe.” – Evelyn Rusli, co-founder, baby food brand Yumi
Workout at your desk
Sometimes you simply can’t get out. “In the office, there’s nothing wrong with doing sets in between calls and meetings. Do 20 squats, 20 jumping jacks.” Bonus points if you break a sweat. (Sorry, work clothes.) – Martellus Bennett, founder of creative firm The Imagination Agency
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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