We all have the same 168 hours in a week. For many entrepreneurs, 168 is nowhere near enough to get everything done that needs to be completed. But since there is no current plan to move the Earth farther away from the sun so that you can land more clients, it is probably best that you learn to use your working hours more wisely.
In this article, we will be showing you how you can have a ridiculously productive week. But first, let’s take a quick look at the things that stop you from being as productive as you’d like to be.
Things that make weeks unproductive
There are hundreds of reasons why you may not be able to complete every task on your to-do list.
- Unproductive Meetings
There are approximately 25 million workplace meetings that are held every day in the U.S. However, 67% of executives believe that most meetings are a waste of time.
One of the biggest problems that stifles productivity and makes entrepreneurial success nearly impossible is procrastination on the wrong things. If procrastination is a problem, I suggest that you read our in-depth article 8 Ways to Fight Entrepreneurial Procrastination.
- Taking on too much
The opposite of doing too little due to procrastination is doing too much because of being overly ambitious. While being motivated and ambitious is an asset when it comes to business and life, giving yourself more than you can handle is a recipe for failure. Remember, it is ok to be hungry, but it is not good to gorge yourself until you’re sick.
- Too many distractions
While technology can help improve productivity, it has also become the biggest cause of distraction for the mass majority of people in the last 15 years.
- Uninspired or unmotivated about work
Not being motivated by what you need to do may have to do with your own drive, but it can also be the work that you are involved in. If you do not find a bigger purpose in your work (or your “why”), you will be less likely to do it.
1. Don’t do what you did last week.
How successful was last week for you? If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that you are not happy with the level of output you’ve had at home or work. If you have had a string of unproductive weeks, you will find it hard to crush your entire week unless you do something different than what you have been doing.
What were the things last week that prevented you from conquering your week? Did you stay up too late reliving your childhood on Sunday night by watching 90’s kids cartoons on Disney+? Did you have something to do on Tuesday, but put it off until Friday, and then never got it done?
Review the previous week and identify the things that you did well and the things that you didn’t. Once you’ve identified the things that did not go well, ask yourself why they didn’t go well.
Once you identified the things that stopped you, do your best to eliminate them for the upcoming week. The worst thing you can do is to carry over bad habits from one week to the other.
2. Focus on the vital few first
When developing a strategy for a productive week, it is important to learn the difference between what you want to do and what is vitally important. These unproductive habits and actions are like small termites that slowly eat at your productivity
During the second year of my business, I found myself in a loop of taking care of or overseeing everything that popped up. I went from marketing tasks, to sales tasks, to operations tasks in a matter of minutes.
I was constantly feeling like everything had to be done right away. After several months of this, I took a good look at myself and my week and realized the way that I was running the business was not sustainable. I decided to adjust things in order to create scalability.
I began to rank my tasks in order of importance. It took about two full days to accurately and honestly rank all of my administration, leadership, sales, marketing tasks as well as busy work that I thought was important. The following week, I choose to do the most vital tasks first. I witnessed my productivity skyrocket.
3. Don’t Say ‘Yes’ to Every Request
There are always going to be opportunities. But saying yes to every opportunity will stifle your productivity. Learn to say no, and you will free up your week to do the things that are the most important.
Sometimes being insanely productive has less to do with what you do and more about what you don’t do! When you learn to say no to unnecessary meetings, opportunities, or requests, you will find that you will have more time and energy to focus on the important things.
Here are a few tips on saying no to every request:
- Ask yourself if this is in line with your goals or if this is a distraction.
- Evaluate if your desire to say yes is just a fear of missing out.
- Be direct but polite.
- Learn the difference between “no” and “maybe”-This is a problem that I had to overcome. I would often say “no” but leave the door open for the person to request again within a day or two.
- Be honest-Don’t lie or make excuses for why you cannot or (choose not) to do something. I have heard that it is ok to tell a white lie if you want to get out of doing something that you do not want to do. But there is no need to compromise your integrity when saying “no.” Being courageous is better than being deceptive.
4. Don’t Be a Perfectionist
In order to not be a perfectionist, you must be able to allow yourself the grace to make mistakes and room to grow. Perfectionism, by definition, does not allow for anything less than a standard of perfection. There is no such thing as a perfect person, business, or workweek. The sooner you can accept this, the sooner you will be able to increase your personal effectiveness.
You also must learn to not let mistakes derail your progress. Focusing on not making a mistake is a huge mistake in and of itself. Entrepreneurial, as well as life growth, involves making mistakes and learning from them.
If you didn’t make as many sales calls as you intended, it is not the end of the world. You told yourself that you would have that Instagram Live video done by this week but you are a few days behind? Instagram will be there when you are ready. The key is not to abandon your plans just because they do not happen exactly the way you want them to.
Try not to focus on mistakes, but instead concentrate on solutions. In time, you will begin to see your mistakes and missteps for what they are, tools that help you grow. There will be days when things do go wrong no matter how hard you try. Don’t beat yourself up or give in.
5. Get Everything Out of Your Head
As entrepreneurs we often have a head filled with ideas and actions we want to take. A new marketing approach, an improvement to an existing product, or a whole new product that we want to launch. We also have big ambitions for the things we want to accomplish.
With all of these things swirling in our minds, it can be difficult to think clearly about what we should be doing. That is why one of the first things to do to have a productive week is to write down all of your thoughts and ideas.
Getting these thoughts out of your head and in front of your eyes will help you see clearly. It will also help you remember just what exactly you are going to do all week. Ideas, plans, and responsibilities should be written down or added to a device. Don’t rely on your brain to remember everything you need to do.
If you spend too much time trying to make everything perfect, your other priorities will begin to pile up. But you can use Sundays to prepare for a productive week.
For me, Sundays are special. Along with spending time with my family, I use Sunday’s to mentally prepare myself for my week. This was something I started when I worked in the corporate world and was striving to climb the ladder.
I would often drive around the city and think about the previous week. I often stopped at a park or lake to think. Then I would write down my thoughts about the previous week and what I wanted to accomplish during the current week.
Get all of your thoughts, ideas, plans, and expectations on paper or device. Clearing your head of clutter will help you focus and keep the work in front of you clear and organized. The clearer things are for you, the more likely you are to attack them head on.