The following techniques work incredibly well for me. You should read and adapt them for your own personality and work style. Techniques 1 and 2 were in last week’s article and can be found at Proven Productivity and Time Management Techniques for Entrepreneurs Part I.
3. Understand the *urgent* versus the *important*.
Every day we are bombarded with *must dos* and *have to have asap* requests. You should understand what will move your business forward and help you reach your goals. Before you accept ANY of these, ask yourself the following questions:
1/ “Is this my unique brilliance (meaning: Does this task fulfill you? Is it in line with your mission?)?” and 2/”Will this bring me closer to the money (defined as new clients, marketing, etc. in your business)?”
If the answer to either of those questions is “no”, you should not take on the task.
I realize that it’s simple for me to say “just don’t do it” and that, in reality, it’s not always so simple. You must learn to erect boundaries between you and every request that saunters in the door. Otherwise your business will never move forward.
As Stephen Covey states, you should focus on tasks and projects which are “Important and Urgent” and “Important and Not Urgent”. “Important” tasks are defined as the ones which move you forward and generate revenue.
Another way to look at this is by using Paredo’s Principle — also known as the 80/20 Rule. 80% of your income, joy and success comes from 20% of your current activities. The trick here is to figure out exactly what the 20% is and delegate (see Give Yourself a Raise — Get an Assistant) or creatively procrastinate the rest.
Take some time this week to figure out which things contribute the greatest income to your business. Do you have multiple clients? If so, evaluate which ones spend the most money with you and what services/products you are providing to them. Then see if you can either expand those services for that client or find other clients who want the same work.
4. Have a single focus and know your energy peaks.
As an entrepreneur, you have some control over when, where and how you work. Depending on the services you perform, you may have some qualifications to that freedom, but you are still able to be more flexible than if you were in a J-O-B.
Use this flexibility to your advantage. You should work within your peak energy times. For me, that’s early morning and late afternoon. My perfect day has me up around 7am, working by 8am, napping after lunch and then back to work before and after dinner.
Try tracking when you have your best energy and see if you can work within those times. Take a look at your environment. Does it suit you? Do you require quiet or prefer music when you’re working? Can you work from home or do you prefer having other people around you? Do you prefer to have your clients call or email you? It’s your business, design it to work *with* you, not against you.
When you are working, focus on one outcome at a time. It takes much longer to do something if you need to start and stop and then start again. I have a large clock in my office and it helps keep me focused on what I planned to do at any given time. I also keep a sheet of scrap paper to jot down whatever pops into my mind so I can keep going on the current project.
5. Remember to book your quiet time and your fun time.
If all you do is work, work, work — even on your own business — you will not be nearly as productive as you otherwise could be. You need to give yourself permission to have down time and to stop working.
Plan a vacation and purchase non-refundable tickets so you *have* to go. Can’t quite afford a vacation yet? Then create one in your own home — and leave your computer OFF and in the office. You will get your most creative ideas when you are away from the office.
Personally, I get my best ideas when I’m near water — the ocean, a lake, sometimes even in the shower. Is it any wonder I spent two weeks in Hawaii last fall?
As an entrepreneur, we are never done working. There is always something else you can be doing, one more email you can send, another call to take or make, but you need to take vacations and get out of the office for at least one day a week to keep the juices flowing. You can do it, I promise the world will not implode!
Are you ready to get things done more efficiently than ever?