How can I increase my productivity as an entrepreneur? Originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Productivity is something a lot of us struggle to achieve, especially in the time period we live in due to the increase of distractions around us. Unlike what most people think, the key to being more productive is to work smarter, not harder. As the saying goes, “it’s not the number of hours you put into work, it is the amount of work you put in those hours.” If you want to take your productivity to the next level, don’t put in long hours at work! Try these few tips instead:
Time is your most valuable asset:
In order to be fully productive, you need to realize that time is your most valuable asset and it is a scarce resource. This is what differentiates successful entrepreneurs from unsuccessful entrepreneurs. Successful entrepreneurs internalize that they have 1,440 minutes in a day, so they make sure to not waste time doing activities that are counterproductive.
Estimate the amount of time it will take you to finish a task and start a timer, your goal being to finish the task in that time frame. By seeing the countdown, it will give you a sense of urgency and prevent you from getting sidetracked into doing something else.
Yea… this is easier said than done… Some people naturally have a harder time regulating themselves. It will then be easier for them to give in to procrastination than for people who are more focused and goal-oriented by nature. There’s a Spanish proverb that says “Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.” This proverb reminds us that it’s easy to put things off until tomorrow, but that just means that you have to catch up on everything the next day, which most of the time comes with added stress and fatigue. For you to be able to stop procrastinating, you need to know which type of procrastinator you are. Find out which type of procrastinator you are and the solution for your type because one shoe doesn’t fit every foot.
Delaying gratification means saying “no” to something you want at the moment in exchange for a greater benefit later on. You probably know or have heard of the “Walter Mischel Marshmallow Test” for testing children’s willpower: A child is left in a room with a marshmallow for a certain period of time and if he can keep himself from eating the only marshmallow that he has, he will receive another at the end of the experiment. As you can imagine, the majority of children gave in to the temptation and ate their only marshmallow.
This study shows the preference for immediate satisfaction over long-term rewards. The same goes for our tasks or goals. Since we know that the reward of the task is still far away, we lack the will to accomplish the task. That’s why we end up wasting time on our phone or watching TV because of the immediate reward that we get.
Here’s how you can delay gratification:
- Visualize yourself reaping the future rewards: Think about the feeling and the benefit you’ll get by accomplishing your tasks. The more vivid and specific you can make the images, the more motivated you will be to achieve your goal.
- Steer clear of temptation: Stay away from everything that distracts you or causes you to procrastinate. For most of us it’s our phone, so turn off your phone or put it on Do-Not-Disturb when you start working. If you can’t do that then use apps that block access to any apps of your choice and even your phone’s internet browser.
- Reward yourself: If you struggle to delay gratification then set a specific time for you to reward yourself. For example, set in your calendar a time when you reward yourself by watching a movie or playing a game online AFTER completing a task.
Organize your tasks:
As an entrepreneur, you shouldn’t be doing everything! For that reason you need to organize your tasks and ask yourself the following questions:
- “How valuable is this task to my business and What would be the outcome if I just dropped it completely?”
- “Am I the only person who could do this task? Who else in or outside my business could accomplish this?”
- “Can the same outcome be achieved but with a faster process? How would I complete this task if I only had half the time?”
By asking these three questions it will give you the insights you need to identify the tasks that you should drop, delegate, or redesign. This will allow you to focus your time on what really matters and you’ll have more free time to spend with your family or do whatever else you like.
Out of all these tips, I think the most important is to know how to organize your tasks because to become successful you have to learn how to focus on activities that drive the most revenue to your business and delegate or outsource the rest of the activities.
Unlike what most people think, being productive is not the only thing that matters… You have to also be profitable at the same time because productivity doesn’t always equate to profitability!