When you are an entrepreneur or business owner, you can find yourself overwhelmed if you don’t have a good plan in place. As your business grows and there become more and more tasks that need to be completed, you want to find ways to up your productivity. One of the most important traits a successful entrepreneur can have is the ability to remain consistently productive.
Although many business owners thrive in the fast-paced entrepreneur lifestyle, over time it can get exhausting. In this article, you’ll learn how you can prevent burnout and stay productive as an entrepreneur. As the old cliche says, it’s about working smarter, not harder.
1. Find Your Working Window
The great thing about life is that no two people are exactly the same, and that goes for entrepreneurs, too. Instead of expecting yourself to be productive on command when there’s work to be done, start taking notice of when you actually feel most productive.
You may have heard about your body’s natural clock, also referred to as your circadian rhythm. Not only is your circadian rhythm responsible for your sleep habits, but it also plays a large role in your daytime energy. Some individuals are genetically hardwired to feel more alert later in the day, evening, or even at night.
Working with your body instead of against it can do wonders for your productivity overall, and it can keep your energy up long-term. A huge benefit to being an entrepreneur is not having to stick to a strict 9-5 schedule. Take advantage of the opportunity to get to know when you feel most energized.
2. Have a Morning Routine
Developing a morning routine is one of the absolute best ways to set yourself up for a productive day. This prepares your mind and body for the day and can help you complete many tasks before even clocking into work. Creating a morning routine will help save mental energy that you can then use throughout the day. By doing the same thing each morning, it simply becomes what you do instead of something you have to think about doing.
When setting your alarm, be sure to give yourself some time to sit and set your intentions for the day. Waiting until the very last minute to get up and around will leave you feeling hectic and frantic all day. Even better would be if you allow yourself enough time for a quick workout or some meditation. This is good for the body and helps you feel productive before the day starts.
3. Delegate to Others
As an entrepreneur or business owner, you may feel like you need to have a hand in all of the tasks that need to be completed for your business. As your business grows, this is physically impossible and is only going to cause you more stress!
Find people that you trust to bring into your business and delegate those non-core and administrative tasks that are simply taking time away from bigger things that need your attention. A great rule to follow is the 80/20 rule (and no, this isn’t about your diet). You get 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts. Find the 20% that are most important for your business and delegate the remaining 80% to fully-capable team members. Not only does this help the business grow and become more efficient, but it helps your team to build confidence in each other.
4. Start Single-Tasking
Studies show that multitasking not only reduces productivity, but it trains your brain to become less efficient over time. The reason for this is because each time you provide attention to a new task, your brain has to neurologically “switch gears”, and thus loses focus. This can also accidentally train your brain to have a shorter attention span, because it’s perpetually waiting to switch tasks.
If you have a hard time sticking to just one task at a time, you can train yourself to stop multitasking by working on one task for 20 minutes before making a switch. During those 20 minutes, make an effort to be mentally present with only the current task. If you find yourself getting unrelated ideas, write them down for later and come back after you’ve finished.
5. Remove Distractions
One great way to stay productive, especially if you’re working from home or within a controlled environment, is to remove all possible distractions. Creating a home office or private workspace can make this even easier. Minimizing clutter and keeping technology out of sight can help you stay on track as you work.
Here are a few ways minimize distractions during your workday:
- Place your phone outside of your office.
- Use app and website blockers on your computer to restrict distracting sites.
- Close all email windows.
- Turn off desktop notifications.
- Create a secluded work space if you’re working from home.
Here are some tips to stay focused when you’re surrounded by distractions.
6. Use Productivity Apps
There are several apps available that help entrepreneurs, business owners, and their employees increase productivity. Not only can they track different aspects of your business performance, but they keep your team all on the same page, increasing productivity and teamwork all around.
You can also use features included in most apps to see where performance and productivity aspects could improve. This data can be invaluable when learning about your business and productivity. A lot of the apps also include options for you to personalize and make the app work for just the tasks you need it for.
7. Learn to Say “No” More Often
Entrepreneurs and business owners are those who take advantage of opportunities. However, every opportunity is not beneficial and helps you reach your goals. It’s easy to over-commit when you struggle with healthy boundaries. Saying “no” to unimportant or irrelevant tasks can save you from having to juggle too many tasks later.
To increase your productivity, learn to say “no” more often. Maintaining healthy boundaries can make it easier to prioritize the right tasks. Remember, “no” doesn’t have to mean forever – you can always come back to something later when you’re a little less busy.
8. Take Breaks
At first, this might seem counter-productive; however, having planned breaks can help your mental health and overall productivity. If you run your body and brain into the ground by not taking any breaks, you could end up suffering burnout and other negative issues; in an extreme case, you could even make yourself physically sick. (and that doesn’t do your business any good at all!)
While you might need to be flexible with your breaks, you could be on a call with a customer or handling an emergency situation at the exact planned time, be sure and make it up at the next possible time allotment. It could be as simple as getting up and walking around your home or office. Take the dog out for a quick walk. Go to the post office. Do some simple stretches or squats. Just something to get your body and brain moving.
9. Have a Clear To-Do List
There are fewer things that will kill your productivity as quickly as feeling overwhelmed. When multiple tasks need your attention, it’s easy to feel stressed and overburdened. However, taking the time to write out a specific to-do list can help you realize it isn’t as bad as it seems.
Writing to-do lists helps you organize your tasks in a way that’s tangible, where you can track progress and stay focused. To-do lists are also highly effective if you have a hard time starting new tasks – studies show that 50% of completed to-do list items are done within the same day. It can be a great way to get a head start.
10. Don’t Overdo It
Entrepreneurial burnout is no joke. Entrepreneurs are notoriously passionate, hard-working and self-motivated individuals. But, they’re also known to overwork themselves. Often to the detriment of their mental health. When burnout hits, you’re left feeling defeated and exhausted, and even everyday tasks become difficult.
It’s crucial you do everything in your power to prevent burnout, because the road to recovery can be steep. If you’re a solopreneur, it’s even more important, because you don’t always have a support system ready to back you up.
Make sure you take breaks throughout the day and rest properly between work sessions. Taking care of yourself now can mean higher productivity in the long run.
11. Be Accountable
A great way to stay productive is to stay accountable for how much work you complete in a day. Use scheduling and to-do list apps like HabitNow to track your daily progress on tasks. If that’s not your style, try a buddy system. Talk to a friend about your daily workload and what you’ve accomplished. Just make sure this friend is someone you can trust to keep you on track.
12. Stop Procrastinating
Procrastination is a tendency to put off tasks until the last minute. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. 15-20% of adults say they struggle regularly with procrastination. It can be easy to put off work until you’re in the perfect mood, but it’s harmful to your business and your brain.
Frequent procrastination encourages your brain to neglect tasks because when you choose an enjoyable activity over work, your brain is processing dopamine as a chemical reward. Entrepreneurial procrastination is particularly damaging because it puts your business at risk of missing targets.
If left unchecked, it can also manifest into a habit, which becomes difficult to break. Instead, take a deep breath and get your nose to the grindstone. Those leisure moments will be waiting for you when you’re done.
Running a business or being an entrepreneur is not an easy task. Many variables and tasks must be completed for each day to run smoothly. Finding ways to set yourself up for success will be what helps your business be productive and keeps you in a good place to run your business and keep it growing and thriving.
The most difficult step to being more productive is the first one: getting started. Now that you’ve learned some ways to improve your productivity, get moving! Your business’s success is in your hands.