5 Tips For Efficient Entrepreneurs
Let’s face it, we all only have the same 24 hours in a day. The way we spend those hours, especially as solopreneurs, can mean the difference between success and possibly failure; it could certainly mean the difference between getting your to-dos done and having a work/life balance. While I don’t believe in planning your day down to the last minute (you need to build in a cushion for unexpected family events or rush jobs from clients.
How can you get a jump start on your week and use your 24 hours to the fullest? Here are my top five tips for efficient entrepreneurs:
- Plan your day before you leave the office or plan your coming week on Sunday. Regardless of how you want to plan, the idea is to plan. Writing tasks and goals down is a great way to “get them out of your head” and prevent waking up at night in a cold sweat wondering how you were going to get it all done. Whether you use an online planner like Evernote or a personal planner or even write your to-dos on a sticky note, having them in front of you will keep you on track and could help quell a panicky moment of thinking you had too much to do and not enough time to do it. Don’t forget to add large goals to your daily to-dos; for example, if you have an ebook to write add that to your list and spend 15 to 30 minutes a day working on it. Nibble away at your larger goals so you’re sure to meet your deadlines.
- Get in the habit of only touching an item one time. As an example: If an email comes in your options are to answer it immediately, delete it or file it for future reference. The idea is to do whatever needs to be done the first time you “touch” it. Don’t read it then procrastinate on acting on it; when you do that you’re simply prolonging the inevitable and you now have to work on it twice. You should practice this with physical mail or other paperwork as well. If you touch it you should take care of it – file it, act on it or trash it.
- As a solopreneur and a breast cancer survivor I am the poster child for this – build a cushion into your work days for unexpected events. Prior to my diagnosis I didn’t have a cushion in my workday or my workweek, I didn’t even have enough of a cushion in my work to take my dog for a walk – not a healthy way to live. Once I was diagnosed and was at the mercy of oncologists and surgeons, tests, surgeries and more I learned that I had no control over my schedule – it was in the hands of the doctors I now had to trust to prepare a treatment plan and work to save my life. As I recovered, I knew that I still had to get my client work done, but I also knew I needed to leave breathing space in my calendar. Don’t let a health emergency be the item that forces you to build a cushion into your daily routine – start today.
- Make sure you’re using the right tools for your particular area of expertise. If you’re on the computer all day long for your job, you need to have a computer that will perform at the levels you need in order to perform your tasks. If you’re tasked with posting to myriad social media sites on a daily basis for your clients, save time from having to log into individual accounts by using a program like HootSuite or SproutSocial to schedule the tasks and to only have one area to log into on a daily basis. If you are a business owner you also need to track your finances. Don’t resort to the shoebox method. Invest in QuickBooks or some other bookkeeping program or find a bookkeeper who will do the task for you. Remember, sometime the right tool for a task may be to work with a trusted business partner like a bookkeeper, health coach, lawyer, etc.
- Make certain you have set office hours. This is especially true for solopreneurs who work from home. If you don’t respect your office hours and your work space, neither will individuals in your household. You also need to have set hours with your clients during which you will take phone calls or even answer emails. One great efficiency tip I have found is to not check my email for the first two hours of work every morning. Why? The morning is my most productive time and if I give it away to checking email, I lose my peak efficiency hours and by checking email first thing I am starting my day in a reactive mode. You need to determine when your best time of day is then grab a couple of hours during that time to work on your most difficult projects. You also need to turn off email and social media alerts and not answer the phone. When I started this, I told my clients that even though I was in the office at 8 am I wasn’t checking email until 10 am and if they needed something before 10 am, to feel free to text me – to date there have been no texts. This tells me that I was right to choose that time to work on my projects before jumping into client work.
What can you do to be more efficient and effective? Do you have a to-do list? Do you write down your goals in a space where you can see them daily?
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