One of the advantages to being an entrepreneur is that you get to set your own schedule, at least to a certain extent. Wouldn’t it be great if you could shorten the amount of time you spend on work each week, and actually get MORE out of the time you do spend working? It’s not as difficult as it sounds.
When you give yourself a full work week to get all of your To Dos to be completed, you’re probably going to use every minute of that week – and then some. But if you really think about it, how much of that time do you waste doing menial or unimportant things, just because you know you’ve got all day to finish your list? If you make a few tweaks to your work week you’ll find you can streamline your productive time AND leave plenty more free time than you’ve ever had before.
Ready to get started? We thought so. Here’s a list of tips that should set you on your way:
1. Prioritize your list.
It may sound silly, but if you allow your To Do list to fill up with extraneous items every week, it only drags down your productivity. Focus on your absolute priorities, and put those first. Get them done as quickly as you can and then if you feel like doing more you can always go to a back-up To Do list with less-important tasks on it.
2. Guard your time.
Seriously, guard the time you spend working like it’s the most precious thing you have. If you’ve given yourself 30 minutes to write your next blog post, but you let your spouse/kids/mom’s phone call interrupt you in the middle of that time, chances are it’s going to take you an hour or more to actually write the post. Set specific hours of the day for yourself when you’re going to complete your most focused work and then ask your friends, family members, and even clients not to call you during those hours unless there’s some sort of emergency. You can talk on the phone later in the day when your brain isn’t wired for absolute productivity.
The other side of this is that YOU can’t be your own distraction during this time. Silence your cell phone so it won’t alert you of every e-mail that comes in. Keep your computer closed if you do production-type work and ban yourself from distracting web sites if you have to work online. Keep the time for work just that – time for WORK – and you’ll find a lot more time for play comes out of it in the end.
3. Delegate and automate.
There are a lot of time-consuming tasks that you probably do even though you don’t have to. Hire an assistant or an intern to pack up your orders for shipping, or to track your inventory shelves. Set up an FAQ page on your web site so your customers won’ t email you with the same questions day after day. Set up an automated system for invoices, appointment-setting and email responses so you won’t waste time doing things that someone else could do instead.
4. Take time to relax & refresh.
If you try an experiment and give yourself one day a week to be completely offline, away from your inbox and out of touch with your business, you may find something surprising: when you come back to work on Monday, you’ll actually work harder and faster because you’re feeling so refreshed from your break. Take at least one day a week to spend on your own or with family and friends, away from the To Dos for a while. It will do wonders for the time you do spend at work, because you’ll find yourself streamlining your work process to make sure you get to take that time off every week. You never know – you might even find yourself taking two or three days a week to refresh! Shocking, we know. But you deserve it!
If you’d like to learn more about working smarter, not harder, check out these finds from the Interwebs: