Does it ever feel like you could really do with more than twenty four hours in a day? Life as a busy entrepreneur means always juggling tasks, dealing with constantly competing priorities, and often feeling like you’re one step away from dropping the ball on something important, because there just aren’t enough hours to give everything the focus it deserves. The bad news? There’s no magic wand that is going to give you more time. But the good? It is possible to wring more out of the time that you have. Often those who succeed in business aren’t the most intelligent, or even the ones with the best business ideas, but simply those who can hustle and work harder than everyone else.
Find Out Where You’re Wasting Time
You may think you have every last minute scheduled and that you’re staying on top of your personal productivity, but there will almost certainly be pockets of time that are being wasted. It may only be fifteen minutes here and there, but taken over the span of a day, that can easily add up to a significant chunk of time. The Internet offers many wonderful things, but it is also the biggest source of distraction and wasted time in most offices. Using an app like RescueTime can give you a real, honest picture of where that casual surfing is leading to a web black hole, and will make it very clear where you’re spending most of your time online – it will even generate a daily productivity score for you. Once you can see exactly how many hours a week you’ve spent teeing up white noise playlists on Spotify or casually scrolling through Twitter, it’s a real eye opener. You can then install software which blocks or time limits these sites, stripping out your useless surfing and handing you back a large chunk of your day. You may also want to do this with other members of your team. Studies show that a third of workers waste three hours a day on non-essential websites – that is a whopping eighteen weeks of work per year!
Optimise Your Sleep Environment
You might think that getting more sleep is counterintuitive to enhancing your productivity, but you’d be very wrong. Sleep is the foundation of wellbeing, and mental and physical health, and is absolutely critical if you’re hoping to squeeze more out of your day. When you aren’t getting enough – and you’ll need to work out how much sleep you need, as it does vary from person to person – your productivity takes a massive hit. You’ll be taking twice as long to complete simple tasks as your brain struggles to focus. Sleep deprivation dials down your focus, your creativity, your problem-solving skills and the speed at which you can work. It also wrecks your immune system, which means you’re far more likely to get struck down with illness, causing another major productivity hit. Developing good sleep hygiene is absolutely essential for real leaders. Make sure your bedroom environment is geared up for shut eye by fitting blackout blinds, investing in a quality mattress and bedding, and banning melatonin-disrupting blue light emitting tech such as phones and tablets. You could also try a guided meditation app if you have trouble relaxing, or add an aromatherapy diffuser. Don’t see it as weak to prioritise rest and early nights – it’s a fundamental component of your health and productive abilities.
If you’re working at or above full productivity for too long, you’re liable to suffer burnout unless you factor in some rest periods as well-and accept that these are just as important a component of working smart as the times when you go flat-out. Simply remembering that you’re human, and that you need to create a schedule which allows for exercise, rest time, seeing your loved ones and interests outside of the office can be enough to stop a catastrophic meltdown further down the line. This is especially important if you have a young family – you may be working hard to build something for them, but if you’re never there they’ll be grown up before you know it and you’ll be an outsider. Make sure you use a schedule builder and set boundaries which allow you to be present at times when you are with your family, and focused on work when you aren’t. The trick is to acknowledge that these other elements are just as important as work and a vital part of the equation.
Start your morning off right and you’re set up for a great day.
Keep Good Digital Hygiene
The software that is supposed to work for us, often works against us. Email can be an overwhelming force in our lives that actually stops us from reaching peak productivity. Create a system that works for you to manage various projects – setting up folders by subject rather than type of file is generally better, using CRM for Gmail can help you project manage without leaving your inbox, investing some time in learning how to set up auto-rules for your inbox is a good idea and for heaven’s sake turn off the push notifications and you’ll find you can get a lot more done in a day.
Create Your Power Hour
There is a lot of evidence to show that how you spend the first hour of your day after waking sets the tone for the rest of your day in terms of productivity. Publications have collected the morning rituals of leaders and they make for fascinating reading. Common threads include meditating to clear the head and set up energy for the day ahead (using a mindfulness app can be a great way to get started) and exercising – basically things which allow you to take a moment to yourself without the intrusion of any external factors. It can be tempting to blast through some emails, but be aware that using your peak energy time to tackle admin can be a waste of the time when your mental powers are at their peak – you may find that tackling a bigger project immediately, even if you only sketch the outline of that tricky strategy you have to draft, is a better use of your creative freshness first thing in the morning. Or you could choose to learn a new skill or spend some time reading challenging non-fiction while your brain is super receptive. Invest the first hour of the day wisely, and you’ll be set up for a productive day where you can achieve more.