10 Productivity Hacks for Busy Entrepreneurs
By: Vlad Moldavskiy 04/04/2015
To say entrepreneurs are always busy is an understatement; it’s an overwhelming job that requires a ton of attention and can wear you thin. Fortunately, there are several productivity hacks to lighten the load. Take a look at our list below and apply them to your daily schedule for a boost in productivity.
GET A HEAD START
Are you an early bird? If so, hop right up and get your day started before everyone else awakes. Even if it means working out at 6am to get your creative juices flowing, like Don Peppers, or checking email before new messages start rolling in, you can do so distraction free. And you may even find that you get more accomplished in a few hours than you do in the span of an eight-hour workday.
The 48-hour rule
As an entrepreneur, you will be forced to wear many hats and multi-task until you can afford to hire additional staff. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll be immune to missteps, roadblocks and failures, which can be emotionally draining and require you to take a time out. The remedy? Jeremy Bloom, founder of Integrate, recommends setting what he calls a "move-on date" so you can cope; allow yourself a 48-hour window "to obsess over everything that happened" but not to the point where long-term productivity is hindered. “If you lose a big-name client, don't receive a promotion or didn't score a key partnership, you need to let go in order to move forward,” he wrote in an article posted on Entrepreneur.
Create a schedule and stick to it
Entrepreneurship is appealing for several reasons; one being the ability to set your own schedule. But if you aren’t disciplined enough to actually follow-through, productivity will take a tumble. Instead of drafting up a mile-long to-do list, take a moment to create a schedule for the day; unexpected things come up, but aside from those, do you best to follow your daily plan as closely as possible.
Prioritize your tasks
This goes hand in hand with scheduling. At the start of each workday, whether it’s in the wee hours of the morning or around noon, you’re much more productive. “Once you know when these hours are, make sure that you [get as much work done as you can] and maintain a strict schedule around them,” says John Rampton, founder of Adogy.
If you’re constantly being disrupted by conference calls, unexpected projects or countless meetings, allocate a few hours or an entire workday each week for quiet time. Communicate to your staff that you’ll be unavailable unless it’s an absolute emergency. It's "an invaluable tool for ensuring you have some contiguous space to do project work," Dustin Moskovitz, cofounder of Facebook and cofounder and CEO of Asana, told Business Insider.
Take a nap
Snoozing on the job? Sounds a bit tacky, but studies by the National Sleep Foundation show “that a 20-30 minute nap can lead to a 34% improvement in performance and a 100% increase in mental alertness. Berkeley found that napping boosts the brain’s learning capacity,” notes The Payroll Blog. Just don’t snooze too much or you may turn into the Grinch.
Limit email and social media usage
Customers demand your attention, employees have questions and online fans need to be engaged. However, there must be time constraints for each activity or you’ll never successfully stick to a schedule and actually work on your business without burning yourself out.
This suggestion is easier said than done if funds are limited or you have a hard time delegating. But if you can afford to absorb the risk, you’ll be much more efficient, which fosters productivity and enables you to focus on core competencies that will grow the business. Sites like Fiverr, oDesk, Elance and Fancy Hands are affordable options worth considering.
The phrase, jack of all trades, master of none, may perfectly describe your current situation. Unfortunately, multi-tasking may also be hindering your productivity. It’s much better to hone in on a particular project and execute than to be pulled into several different directions throughout the day.
Do you find yourself taking a “brief hiatus” during the day to check Facebook, reply to text messages, surf the web or anything of the like? Chances are you spend much more time than you initially intended to, which throws your daily schedule off track and leaves you scrambling or rushing through assignments to catch-up. A better alternative: save it for after hours or download an app that limits online distractions so you can focus on what matters most: your business.