Entrepreneurs need to get a lot done, from mundane tasks to all-encompassing projects. Project management tools can help you stay organized and on track so your daily production is enhanced. In remembering that continuous improvement is one of the 10 most important characteristics of an entrepreneur, here are some ways to be more productive in the limited time you have.
Choose one day a week when you have no meetings. Having nothing on your schedule gives you a full day to focus on the business of doing business. Book it in your calendar so you won’t be tempted to schedule any meetings. To really capitalize, shut off your phone and restrict your internet access.
A mind map is like a to-do list on steroids. It’s a visual representation of a project, concept or idea that helps you plan and execute. There are several mind mapping apps, like MindMeister, MindGenius, or SmartDraw, or you can just use a whiteboard. If you’ve reached a creative roadblock on an idea, a mind map can help you break the logjam.
Stop worrying and take back the time you spend doing it. Proactively managing the risk associated with running a business will give you more time to be productive. Business liability insurance to cover the risks you can’t control will help you use your time working instead of worrying, and will help you be more productive. Get business insurance quotes online to save even more time.
Try the Pomodoro technique – 25-minute bursts of intense work followed by a 5-minute break. Set a timer for 25 minutes and focus on a single project or task. When the timer goes off, set it for five minutes and do one of those things you usually interrupt your productive work for, like scrolling through twitter or answering your email. Then do it again. You probably won’t spend your whole day this way, but if you can squeeze in two or three cycles of 25-minute focused blocks of time, you’ll be amazed at the productivity gain.
Another graphic organizing technique, a Kanban board lets you represent workflows visually. More structured that the mind map, it helps you break down projects into individual tasks, assign ownership of those tasks and chart your progress. A Kanban board shows a column for each project stage, and individual tasks move from one column to the next as they are completed. You can make a simple Kanban board with colored sticky notes on a whiteboard, or use an online version like LeanKit, Kanban Tool, or SwiftKanban.
Be the first person in to work in the morning. If your employees start at 8:30, come in at 7. That extra hour and a half each day, seven and a half hours a week, will be prime undisturbed time for you to tackle complex projects. Even if you’re a solopreneur, getting in before the phone starts ringing and the email inbox starts filling up will jump start your day.
Put your three most important tasks for the day on a Post-It note and stick it to your computer. Focus on those three things above everything else.
Restrict access to distractions like your phone, email, etc. Set your phone to Do Not Disturb, and use a program like SelfControl to restrict your access to specific websites for a certain period of time. If you’re still distracted by non-productive browsing, try RescueTime, which tracks how much time you spend on which sites.
Employ the VIP inbox on your phone to prioritize emails. Direct emails from your important contacts into that inbox, and make that the only one you check during the day.
Reject the multitasking myth. Trying to do three or four things at once only means that you’ll end up not doing any of them well. Perform tasks serially, not in parallel. When you’re done with one thing, move on to the next instead of trying to do both at once.
Use the two-minute rule. If something can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately. Putting it off and resurrecting it later will take longer than the two minutes it will take to complete the task.
Do less. This sounds counterintuitive, but you may find yourself inundated with opportunities and tempted to try to take advantage of them all. Turn down all but the best use of your time. When you are trying to choose between two or more projects, ask yourself, “What is my highest best use?” Then choose the project that represents that.
Outsource what you can. As your business grows, you’ll feel more and more pressure to do everything. Think about what tasks you can pass off to a contractor or an agency. This will free you up to do more of what you went into business to do.
Work space is for work. Especially if you work from home, it’s important to segregate your work space from the rest of your life. Blurring the line between work and non-work will only dilute your productivity.
How do you get more done in less time? Tell us in the comments below.