One of the most important things to learn how to do as an entrepreneur is to be productive with your time.
When my clients come in and say they need to learn to be more productive, it’s usually because they aren’t passionate about what they are doing. They own or run a company but don’t feel like they have a purpose in their life. In order to make good use of your time, you need to reframe the way you think about your business and see it as something purposeful. By running your business, you are putting food on the table for you and your loved ones. By owning your company, you are providing a valuable product or service that people really need. By running your business, you are providing work to your employees. No matter how you frame it, know that you are making a difference in people’s lives. When you look at it that way, it’s a lot easier to find the motivation to get organized and be productive with your time.
Being productive is something I have had to learn over the years and still continue to improve on. It’s a daily practice that requires a lot of focus and intention.
Here are 10 ways I’ve learned to be more productive with my time that have allowed me to reach personal and professional success.
1) Create a morning routine. I am so diligent with my morning routine because it starts my day on a productive note! I start with working out at 5 am, making a healthy breakfast and then going over my daily commitments, highlighting the big three things I have to accomplish that day. Working out in the morning gets me in the right mindset so I can be super diligent throughout the day. It gets my body and mind in a good place so I can focus on other things. For me, working out gives me an endorphin release and wakes me up! I don’t even drink coffee or any caffeine because I don’t need it. On days I don’t work out, which is rare, I feel sluggish and tired and I am way less productive. Remember that how you start your day is how you will finish your day! Getting that early start also sets me up for success because I don’t have to worry about working out, it is already finished and I can still get to the office before everyone else to work on things that require more quiet time.
2) Prioritize your to-do list. Write down everything you need to do personally and professionally and then pick the big three you will do for the day. Each day, you pick three things you will get accomplished – this keeps you from getting too bogged down with commitments and helps you focus on what’s most necessary. Then, do the most important thing on your list first. For me, it’s usually a fire that needs to be put out with a client or a sales pitch to a potential client. The little things can wait. You will feel accomplished when you complete your tasks and not overwhelmed by a massive to-do list. Each day you pick the three things you will accomplish that day!
3) Focus! Once you have your big three mapped out for the day, work in an environment where you can be productive. For me, that is in my office where it’s very quiet (I can’t do background music or TV). I know that personally, my phone can be my biggest distraction with all of the notifications (texts, emails, social media messages) and it can all be overwhelming. Schedule a time in your day to return these messages! You do not need to get to every one of them right when they come in. If you do, you’re constantly being moved from the task at hand and have to go back and get your mind on the task over and over again. If you just turned your notifications off for 30 minutes, you probably would be finished! Think about what that does to your brain. You are highly focused on the task at hand and a client texts something they urgently need (or at least they think so) so you drop everything and respond. Then it takes you longer to get back and remember what you were doing to get in the correct mind frame again!
4) Do a time study. Carry a notebook around with you for two weeks and write down everything you do from the time you get up to the time you go to bed (personal and for work) and then rank them in order of importance. You will be surprised where your time is spent. Doing an audit of how you spend your time every day will help you reevaluate your schedule and find the time in your day to do the things most important to you. Screen time can be a huge time-suck. It might be helpful to add up how many hours you watch Netflix or scroll through social media every day. You could be so productive if you limited your social media intake to checking it just a couple of times a day – even put a timer on your phone so you don’t get on your favorite social media app and look up and 45 minutes have passed.
5) Grade yourself on how you did on your Big Three at the end of the day! For example, my Big 3 for the day personally might be working out, eating compliant meals, and spending quality time with the family after dinner. Grade yourself and then reward yourself if you hit your Big Three every day for a week!
6) Delegate things you aren’t good at or don’t like doing! Have you ever noticed when you don’t like a task you find every excuse to not do it? We naturally procrastinate the tasks we don’t enjoy or don’t feel like we are good at. The great thing about owning your own business and being the boss is you can delegate those things you don’t like or aren’t good at! I did my own accounting for years even though I’m terrible at it because I just didn’t trust anyone else to handle the money coming in and going out. I wasn’t productive at the end of the month because I was wasting so much time doing something I wasn’t qualified to do and it took me so long. I finally hired an accountant and it freed me up from so much stress! I am much more productive doing what I’m great at (client relations, selling clients, coaching clients) instead of wasting time doing things I don’t excel at.
The same goes for things at your house. If you don’t have someone clean your house and you have the resources to hire someone, I highly recommend it! If you are running a business, you don’t want to spend your entire weekend cleaning the house when you could be spending quality time with your family. Ask yourself: What can you delegate that you are not good at or don’t like to do so you can spend your time being more productive on the things you are good at?
7) Order online! When I think about how much time I used to spend at the grocery store, and Target, it took hours out of my week! Now, Amazon is one click away from getting me everything I need, from hair products to household supplies and everything in between with super fast delivery. I also do the majority of my clothing shopping online. Retailers are making it easier and easier to do returns online in order to compete with their competitors, and it really does save you so much time. Sure, I still like to have shopping trips and try things on for special occasions, but for everyday items, Amazon makes my life so much easier.
8) Schedule your most important things when you are most productive in the day! I am a morning person, my mind thinks better right after I finish a workout. If I wait until later in the afternoon, I might be thinking about my kids and where they need to be, or the dinner I need to make after work, so I’m not in my best mindset to tackle a big task.
So, I schedule anything important first thing in the morning when I get into work. Don’t try to do something at the time of day you are your least productive.
9) Learn to say NO! When you are launching a business, you may have to say no to other things in your life that are taking up too much time. When my kids were little I used to be in charge of the fundraising for our school auction. I spent hours and hours selling for them after work and on the weekends, which took up valuable free time with my family. I finally decided that I would only volunteer for school activities that my kids could do alongside me, like being the homeroom mom and going on field trips.
10) Hire a Coach! Most of the ideas I have for being productive I learned from a coach. Having a business coach in your life is so important to your success. You don’t always see the obvious things because you’re working on your business every day and emotionally bought in. A coach can step in right away and see the areas you need to improve on to reach your goals.