Creating a business from scratch and nurturing it to success can be a steep mountain to climb. Entrepreneurs have to wear many hats, from managing recruitment and marketing the brand to managing employees and everything in between.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re the ultimate juggler, and must continue to improve your productivity to keep the balls in the air.
After all, you don’t want your business to be part of the 49.7% that fail after five years.
In this article, we’ll go over productivity tips that help entrepreneurs build successful businesses.
1. Avoid Multitasking
Multitasking destroys focus and kills productivity. You’re never truly doing multiple things at once. When you’re multitasking, you’re switching between tasks without getting anything done. And that means you’re constantly disrupting one job for the other.
Studies have shown that multitasking reduces efficiency and increases the chances of making mistakes.
While it may look tempting, focusing on one task at a time is the best way to boost productivity. Resist the urge to reply to that email while in the middle of work as it could cause more harm than good.
According to a University of California, Irvine study, it may take up to 23 minutes to completely resume work after an interruption.
So, get rid of interruptions like impromptu meetings, emails, or less important jobs that don’t concern your work.
2. Don’t Overwork
Overworking is another enemy to productivity. While working on your business is important, burning yourself out means you’ll be making decisions without thinking things through.
According to a 2013 survey, 30% of entrepreneurs revealed that they work more than 50 hours a day. Another research from NodeSource reported that entrepreneurs see work-life balance as one of their biggest challenges.
And as it turns out, working more than 55 hours doesn’t make you more productive. Stanford University researcher John Pencavel published a study about the correlation between productivity and hours worked. It found that productivity begins to fall after 50 hours of work a week. It further reported that working more than 55 hours a week doesn’t increase output over those who worked 50 hours or less.
So, make sure you’re not overexerting yourself in the quest of getting more work done. Instead, prioritize important work and leave the rest for the next day.
That brings us to the next tip.
3. Learn How to Prioritize Tasks
Working extra hours and checking off the tasks on your to-do list doesn’t guarantee productivity. If you’re doing the wrong, you’ll be achieving little.
According to a McKinsey study, workers spent 28% of their workweek replying to emails. That means they’ve spent a good amount of time neglecting critical work.
You can improve your productivity and reduce the risk of burnout by prioritizing the right tasks. When you do what matters, you can let go of unimportant work for the next day or delegate them.
So, how do you prioritize tasks?
Take Time to Categorize Your Tasks According to Importance
When writing your to-do lists and creating your daily or weekly schedule, categorizing should come before scheduling.
After writing out all your and assignments, go through them one after the other and group them according to:
- Important and urgent
- Important and not urgent
- Urgent and unimportant
- Not urgent and not important
These four groups are known as the Eisenhower Matrix. They’ll guide you on how to handle your tasks.
Use the 4Ds of Time Management
The 4Ds of time management are principles that guide how you handle your tasks according to priority. Now that you’ve used the Eisenhower Matrix to Categorize, follow these methods on handling them:
- Do – Important and Urgent: These are tasks that take top priority. Do them before anything else.
- Defer – Important and not urgent: These tasks should come right after the important and urgent tasks.
- Delegate – Urgent and unimportant: Tasks you should hand off to someone else.
- Delete – Not urgent and not important: Remove from your to-do list.
4. Use Time Management Techniques
Time management is one of the most effective ways to boost productivity and maintain a great work-life balance.
There are different techniques that you can employ to stay efficient and execute all your tasks for the day whether you or your team work from home or an office.
Use a Time Tracker
Time trackers monitor how much time you spend on specific tasks and help you calculate your billable hours. They allow you to quantify each job’s difficulty level, keep tabs on your productivity, and know how much you get to charge clients or pay workers.
Most time trackers like Traqq show you how much time you spend on websites and other programs, letting you know what wastes your time and distracts you.
So, you’re able to measure how good you are at a job and discover areas for improvement.
Time trackers also help with scheduling and other time management techniques that help make remote work easy.
The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique involves doing work in short bursts and taking breaks in between. This technique has been popular and successful for decades.
First, you do a task for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. Continue doing your tasks 25 minutes a time and taking 5-minute breaks. Then after the fourth interval, take a long 20- to 30-minute break before restarting the cycle.
Block Your Time
Time blocking is a simple task scheduling procedure but it works with every activity in your day.
List out your activities for the day, from eating to work presentations. Estimate how long it will take to complete each task. After that, block the appropriate time for each activity.
The secret behind time blocking is sticking to your time blocks. If you allocate 1 hour to exercise, stick to the schedule.
Use Time Mapping
Time mapping involves visualizing your entire schedule to help you decide how you move from task to task. This time management technique helps you eliminate decision fatigue.
Decision fatigue happens when you’re too exhausted from making decisions about almost everything, including what to do next.
With a time map, you can visually arrange your prioritized tasks and how they appear on your calendar and schedule. After categorizing your tasks, start blocking time for each one.
You can use a pen and piece of paper, a spreadsheet, or calendar to create your time map. The map can contain activities from work and your personal life.
Use colors to code each activity according to type, urgency, and importance.
Eat the Frog
This technique involves doing the most tasking job of the day before anything else. So, the moment you get to your workstation, look for your biggest challenge of the day and start with it.
Use the Pareto Principle
The Pareto Principle follows “the law of the vital few” proposed by Vilfredo Pareto.
The idea behind the principle is that 80% of your work day’ success hinges on 20% of your tasks.
You have to look at your to-do list and identify the most pressing that, once done, makes your work day a successful one.
Focus on these tasks and complete them.
5. Break Large Tasks Into Smaller Parts
The sheer volume of some tasks can be mentally exhausting that they leave you procrastinating them. Following the “eat the frog” method, it’s advisable that you look at the biggest for the day and tackle them head-on.
Instead of handling these tasks and making mistakes, it will be a great idea to break them into smaller actionable assignments.
For example, if you have a 100 page presentation to design, you can break the work into chapters and milestones. For example, you can assign the introduction as a standalone task, and so on.
6. Eliminate Time-Wasters
Time wasters are activities that distract you or eat into your daily schedule. They can include meetings and replying to unimportant emails.
Getting rid of these activities can free up considerable time and allow you to focus on what matters.
So, consider replacing meetings with project briefs and reports you can send via emails. Then, turn off your email notifications and assign a time to respond to emails.
7. Don’t Micromanage
Micromanaging means you’re doing everyone’s job. It not only kills employee morale but also exhausts you.
So, ensure you hire the right people and understand the principle of delegation. Allow your employees a healthy level of autonomy to boost their motivation and allow their creative juices to flow.
8. Use Your Productive Hours
Your productive hours are those hours in a day when you’re most energetic and focused on work. It could be in the morning or late at night.
The first step in this tip is identifying your golden hours, as they’re also called.
If you’ve not found them already, try working outside your usual hours. For example, you can work during lunch breaks and at night.
Once you identify those hours, allocate your most pressing to those periods and reserve non-pressing tasks for the rest of the day.
9. Automate Tasks – Leverage the Right Technologies
You must deal with repetitive and mundane tasks as a business owner. However, you can automate them to free up time from your schedule.
For example, if you always have to pass on jobs from one team member to another, you can use a project management tool to automate your workflow.
The idea is leveraging the technologies where appropriate. For instance, time trackers can help you create invoices automatically.
That’s how to boost productivity in 2024 as an entrepreneur. You can always free up your time by automating tasks and eliminating time wasters and time management techniques help you to execute your prioritized tasks efficiently.