8 Productivity Hacks for Entrepreneurs
Do you often reach the end of the month only to find yourself wondering why you weren’t able to accomplish more? Do find yourself committing to make next month better?
Have you realized your biggest challenge isn’t lack of time management skills, but a lack of self-management skills? The next month is going to pass regardless. It won’t matter if you have every second of your day scheduled or none of your day scheduled; when the first of next month rolls around – the previous month is over.
Co-founder of the amazing Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, Ari Weinzweig, said, “I believe the hardest work that we can undertake is the work that no one else sees and that no one can do for us. It’s the lifelong challenge to manage ourselves effectively.”
You see, the biggest challenge we face in life is learning to effectively manage ourselves. We know what we should be doing more and the things we should be doing less…and yet we don’t change. Why is that? I believe the following sums it up nicely.
“We live in a world where things are backwards. Things people should be doing, they hesitate to do. Things they shouldn’t do, they rush into.” – Tai Lopez, Financial Planner, Entrepreneur, Investor
How can you reverse this trend? How can you start doing more of the things you should be doing and less of the things you shouldn’t?
Well the secret is – there’s no secret.
Managing ourselves is about doing the little things no one else sees. It is about taking action despite our feelings. I certainly didn’t feel like getting out of bed this morning when my alarm sounded at 5:00 AM.
It’s about taking action in spite of our excuses. There’s always a great excuse to the easy road.
So, in order to make this month your most productive and fulfilling month ever, it is time to change your approach. Here are eight productivity hacks for entrepreneurs.
1) Set Clear Objectives
Thirty days from today, what do you want to have accomplished? Do you want to lose five pounds? Do you want write 10,000 words? Do you want to meet someone? Do you want to increase your income?
Make a list of everything you are planning to achieve over the next 30 days.
2) Measure Everything
Convert each objective on your list that is measurable. For example, don’t simply say, “I want to increase my income.” Instead write it down in a measurable format like this, “I want to increase my income by $500.”
3) Identify Habits
“We become what we repeatedly do.” – Sean Covey, Author and Vice President FranklinCovey
What habits do you currently have that hinder you from accomplishing your objectives? (Make a list.) Maybe you need to break the habit of staying up until midnight, so you can get up earlier to start your day.
“The individual who wants to reach the top in business must appreciate the might and force of habit. He must be quick to break those habits that can break him – and hasten to adopt those practices that will become the habits that help him achieve the success he desires.” – J. Paul Getty, Founder Getty Oil
3) Use Accountability
From the time we are born, accountability is part of our lives. Our parents held us accountable to their rules. Our teachers held us accountable for our homework and class attendance. When you get a job, your boss or manager holds you accountable for showing up each day and delivering results.
For the most part, we’ve all been conditioned to work best when there is some form of outside accountability. Despite all of this conditioning, when it comes to the most important aspect, our personal lives, we have virtually no accountability.
Who can you find to hold you accountable for your personal goals and objectives? It must be someone who can and will be brutally honest with you. Someone who will call you out when you make excuses.
If no one comes immediately to mind for you, you might consider using an app like Coach.Me. This app is designed to provide outside accountability and positive peer pressure for individuals just like us.
5) Set a Schedule
When will you find time to work on your objectives? I don’t need to tell you how busy life can be…I’m sure you’re living it each day. The question for many becomes, “When will I find the time to incorporate these new habits?” Well truthfully, you may not like my answer; but you have to make the time.
For me, I wanted to develop the habit of writing each day, but between balancing growing two companies and a wife and four young children, I didn’t have much extra time in my day. I decided to get up each morning at 5:00 AM and write for an hour. Want to know something…
I HATED IT!
I am not a morning person. And most mornings, even after six months of waking up at 5 AM, I rarely feel like getting up. But I know if I’m going to write each day, then 5:00 AM provides the best chance for me to accomplish this objective.
I’ve found the old sage advice to be true, “Do the most important things first thing in the morning.”
When will you make time for each of your new habits? If you don’t assign specific times for each, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
6) Be a Stickler
“There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.” Ken Blanchard, Author and Management Expert
There are two critical mistakes to avoid when establishing and sticking to a new habit:
a) First, don’t allow excuses or exceptions. Last night was rough for me, I woke up several times and felt like I tossed and turned the rest of the night. When my alarm sounded at 5:00 this morning, my brain was telling me every reason in the world to stay in bed.
There are always…ALWAYS going to be excuses. If you allow excuses, you are allowing your objectives not to be reached.
“You won’t like it at first. You may even hate it. But be proactive. Do it anyway. Even if it’s raining on the morning you’re scheduled to jog, do it anyway. ‘Oh good! It’s raining! I get to develop my willpower as well as my body.’“ – Stephen Covey
b) Second, you have to establish stop times for everything. Whether it is an objective you want to achieve or a task you are working on, without an end time, you’ll spend far more time than necessary.
Parkinson’s Law states, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” You will find this to be true even for the smallest, most meaningless tasks.
To make this month your most productive and meaningful ever, you’ll need to be a stickler for your schedule. You’ll need to ensure that all your working time is effectively scheduled.
7) Review and Measure Regularly
Over the next month, if you don’t do anything except take daily measurements, chances are good you’ll improve in all of the areas you are measuring.
Management guru Peter Drucker said, “What is measured improves.”
I’ve personally seen this validated in virtually every area of my life. I have always struggled with finding time to exercise. Not that I didn’t have time, but simply that exercising wasn’t a big priority for me.
The way I overcame this was to begin tracking how much exercise I did daily. My initial objective was four days each week. This simple daily practice of measurement and review ended the struggle for me. My tracking sheet doesn’t lie. If I don’t workout, then there’s a gap on my tracking sheet and I don’t like gaps.
You will want to schedule set times each day when you are going to review and measure.
Tip: Goal Streaks is a simple to use, yet extremely powerful app that helps you continually review and track the progress you’re making toward your objectives.
8) Show Gratitude
As you begin this journey to your most productive month ever, know it is going to be a challenge. There will be many things which happen that could derail you from your success.
Entrepreneur Jon Huntsman once said, “Life is difficult and success even more so, but anything worth doing must be challenging.”
In his book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being, Martin Seligman offers a simple, yet scientifically validated method for shifting our focus from all the negatives and challenges to the positives.
“We think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives. Of course, sometimes it makes sense to analyze bad events so we can learn from them and avoid them in the future. However, people tend to spend more time thinking about what is bad in life than is helpful. Worse, this focus on negative events sets us up for anxiety and depression. One way to keep this from happening is to get better at thinking about and savoring what went well.
Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they did. You may use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but it is important you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things need not be earthshaking, (“My husband picked up my favorite ice cream for dessert on the way home from work today.”), but they can be important (“My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy.”).
Beside each positive event, answer the question, “Why did this happen?” For example, if you wrote that your husband picked up ice cream, write “because my husband is really thoughtful sometimes” or “because I remembered to call him and remind him to stop by the grocery store.” Or if you wrote, “My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy,” you might write because “she did everything right during her pregnancy.”
Writing about why the positive events in your life occurred may seem awkward at first, but please stick with it for one week. It will get easier.”
At the end of the month – you will have spent another month of your life – why not make it your most productive and fulfilling month ever? Follow these eight simple (but not easy) steps and I’m confident that you will see a significant increase in not only your productivity, but also in your fulfillment. Let me know how it goes.
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