Lately, I’ve let little things in my business slip. Nothing major, but I had to put some things ahead of writing a blog post. Not because of lack of desire, but more so because of a lack of planning on my part. You see, the last 2 months have been completely focused on buying a new home and selling our existing one. It’s a big deal for us and has taken a lot of my energy.
That said, I’ve skipped writing new blog posts and sending newsletters and yet, I’ve still managed to earn an income from the business and pay the bills. Even though I hadn’t planned properly for this season of my life and keeping up with those little business tasks, I can thank my self for setting up automation and building a well-planned business that works even while I’m not, which brings me to today’s post.
I want to help you plan your business better so you can take breaks as I have.
If you’re anxious to reach those goals you’ve set for yourself and your online business, but you quickly realize that there’s only so much time in the day. This post is for you.
If you feel that no matter how hard you try, you feel as though you’re always one step behind.
One thing is very clear: You need a plan.
No matter what business you’re involved in, learning how to effectively manage your time is one of the most important skills that will set you on the path towards ongoing success.
Without a system designed to place a value on each hour you spend working on your business, you’ll find yourself frantically scrambling to meet deadlines, follow through on launches and prioritize what is most important to your business.
This post was written for one purpose only: to help you get more done in less time by leveling up your productivity quickly and easily.
These strategies are strategies I discuss in my course Self Made Together and are designed to help you learn to value your time, make informed decisions about the kind of work you’re focused on and ultimately, build a business without trading time for money.
The Critical Mindset Shift From Employee to CEO
One of the reasons so many people seem to struggle to gain traction in their business is entirely due to the way they manage their daily activities.
This typically points to one major problem:
People are stuck in an employee mindset!
They’re so used to that 9-5 grind that they aren’t equipped to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, which will help them make the transition so they can train themselves to focus on the most important tasks: prioritizing their time and assigning value to the time they spend building their business.
When you work for yourself, your time is more valuable than it has ever been. You’re no longer an employee, paid for each workday regardless of the outcome. If you aren’t ruthless with focusing on the most important tasks, you can easily fall behind or find yourself constantly treading water trying to stay afloat.
As an entrepreneur, you’re solely responsible for your business, so your ability to value your time and make every minute count will have a major impact on how successful you’ll be.
Fail to make this important shift in the way you spend your time, and you’ll always struggle to get to where you want to be.
Thankfully, it’s not all that difficult to break that cycle and transition your way of thinking from that of an employee to a boss. It starts with preparing yourself for the realities of being an entrepreneur.
This means you need to:
-Set Realistic Goals. You must be honest about what you’re capable of getting done on any given day. Then you need to determine how many hours you’re willing to invest in your business and then assign those hours to specific projects.
-Break tasks down into smaller, focused projects. Tim Ferris, author of “The 4-Hour Work Week”, refers to this as “chunking”. We’ll talk more about the importance of this in a bit because it’s a great way to boost your productivity and get more done in less time.
-Cut out Distractions. Your work environment will change drastically from what you may be used to as an employee, and you need to optimize your workspace so that it’s supporting a focused, productive workflow.
-Identify the Truth Behind Procrastination. This is one of the hardest things to acknowledge at times, especially if you’ve gotten into the habit of procrastinating for reasons you aren’t aware of.
We’ll talk more about this in an upcoming section because it deserves a section of its own. It’s that important.
-Be Ruthless in Prioritizing. Does your email really need to stay open while you work so that all those notifications cause you to continuously check your inbox?
Cutting out distractions, as we just mentioned, plays a huge role in your ability to prioritize. Every hour needs to count and you’ll get a lot more done if you focus each segment of your time on only one task. No outside interference!
Let’s take a closer look at how you can learn the chunking technique, which will immediately boost your daily output and keep you focused on meeting your goals.
Boost Your Productivity With Chunking
For years, I would fire up the laptop and start my day doing several different things at once. I’d check email, then maybe do some writing, then head over to social media, and then back to email yet again.
This cycle cost me valuable time, and while I thought I was proficient at multi-tasking, the truth is even the most seasoned go-getter will struggle to get everything done if they’re trying to tackle all things at once.
Chunking is where you decide to focus on just one major task at a time (or even per day). Depending on the type of business you’re involved in, this might include one day exclusively focused on graphic design, then one day dedicated to marketing.
Consider creating a detailed task list of all the important aspects of your business; the things that keep it all afloat and absolutely require your time.
This can be tricky because we tend to things all things are important but the reality is, they’re not.
When it comes to any business, there are a handful of critical tasks that need to be taken care of daily, and the rest just adds a little more gas to the tank. They can be done later once the main tasks are out of the way.
You need to learn to place a value on every ounce of “fuel” you have left. That’s where chunking comes into play.
Consider using Trello to organize your projects/priorities using this method:
- Grab a sample Trello board here: https://trello.com/b/CXVefGzw/to-dos-eisenhower-matrix-style
- Full Trello explanation: https://blog.trello.com/eisenhower-matrix-productivity-tool-trello-board
(image credit: trello)
By focusing on one main task a day, or at least per segment of the allocated time, you are not only able to focus strictly on getting it done on time but the quality of your work will likely be much better because you’re not being constantly derailed. Give it a try!
The Truth Behind Procrastination
Every single one of us can waste time either intentionally or not, but when it comes to building a successful business, often it’s far more of a subtle beast that we need to conquer: it’s our own fears.
When you’re dealing with self-doubt, everything feels a lot more difficult than it is. We find a million reasons not to get something done because internally we’re constantly sabotaging ourselves believe it’ll likely fail, so why bother?
Procrastination is a business killer. It’s also a dream killer because if you’re allowing negative thoughts and self-doubt to lead the way, you’ll never have enough faith in your abilities to see things through. You’ll not only take longer to get ahead, but chances are you’ll never reach your desired destination.
Procrastination has been called the closest ally to underachievement, and for good reason.
Many of us are afflicted by negative, self-doubt so if that’s you, know that you’re not alone. Feeling like we’re not good enough, or that any success we’ve experienced was somehow unworthy is a common struggle with entrepreneurs all over the world.
The “I’m not good enough” monster is only amplified when you see others in your industry succeed. You might wonder whether you know enough, are informed, skilled or equipped enough to be in a position of authority.
If you’re a coach or course instructor, it’s easy to feel as though you’re simply not knowledgeable or experienced enough to be charging people for your information.
Deep down, you know it’s not true. You’ve likely worked hard to get to where you are and deserve every bit of success you achieve. Overcoming those feels will take personal will and determination, but if you make the commitment to yourself and your business, and you persevere, nothing will stop you from reaching those goals.
Don’t be your own worst enemy in business. Be careful not to sabotage your own efforts. Identify your weaknesses and move on to focus on your strengths.
Take action every single day so that you’re too busy killing it in your industry to let that negative voice cost you those aspirations. Dig deep and diligently work towards improving your workflow while letting go of those negative assumptions.
No, it won’t always be easy and it’ll take a determined effort on your part, but if you work towards reprogramming your way of thinking, you’ll vanquish those success-constricting messages and reinvigorate that desire that made you take the leap from employee to self-employed in the first place.
You’ve got this!
Earlier in this post, I talked briefly about the importance of eliminating distractions. Well, believe me, this topic deserves a section all its own.
You now understand the effectiveness of chunking and that by implementing this into your workweek you’ll get more done in less time, but we need to dig a little deeper.
Your work environment is just as important as your workflow. You should do everything possible to separate your personal life from your work life, which means talking with friends and family who may feel that just because you now work from home, you’re free for conversations throughout the day.
Create a routine for yourself and try to stick with it. If you can create a realistic work schedule that everyone in your life understands, you’ll be able to minimize distractions while making each hour count.
Doing this will also help you avoid burn out. You can only go full-speed ahead for so long before you’ll suffer the consequences including a dried up creative well. Pushing forward without breaks or any sort of normal schedule will also leave you scrambling to fix errors, revise projects and will cause you to overlook important tasks.
You’ve likely been through this already. You gun so hard on a project for so long that you end up forgetting important information, or overlook something that causes your project to fail. Allow yourself time to reset.
As for your office environment itself, it all depends on what helps you to stay focused. For some, they find that music helps them focus while others need it to be completely silent.
-Do your best to figure out what kind of routine will get you into a working mindset.
-Does working out in the morning help?
-Do you have to shut off your phone, close your email, or fire up a playlist in order to spring into action?
Find your groove and stick with it.
Your family, your mental health, and your career will thank you for it.
Holding Yourself Accountable
Hopefully, you already have ideas as to how to create an organized system that will boost productivity and help you place a value on your time. If not, make that your top priority.
Hold yourself accountable when you mess up.
If you’re struggling to get things done, it’s easy to switch up the routine believing that will help you get back on track. However, if you take the time to analyze why you really fell behind in the first place, chances are you’ll be able to identify where things went wrong and it’s not always deserving of a new routine.
Take a step back and think about where and when your efforts were derailed.
Were you spending too much time in email or on social media?
Did you fail at prioritizing your goals and ended up spending too much time on things that don’t matter as much?
Self-correcting and holding yourself accountable are two very important lessons when it comes to being successful in your business.
The key is to develop habits that help you to work and to play. Sound strange? It’s not really. Just like you need to figure out a way to get into work mode, you also have to develop habits that help you shut it down when your creativity or quality begins to decline.
It’s way too easy to say “just one more hour”, or to push through and get that “one more thing done”, but it does you no good if you end up having to revise that work because you were so burned out that you didn’t give your very best. Your business deserves the best of you and so do your clients or customers.
Holding yourself accountable isn’t always easy, but it’s the enemy of procrastination. If you take the time to identify where you went wrong, you’ll stay clear of self-doubt by immediately correcting the issue and moving on.
Embrace Being Perfectly Imperfect
This section is dedicated to all you perfectionists out there. Yeah, you know who you are. 😉
If you’re anything like I was, you find yourself spending extra time tweaking and improving on things that don’t really add value to your business.
It’s easy to get caught up in wanting everything to be perfect. This can also go hand-in-hand with those who struggle with procrastination. These two entrepreneurial struggles are like twin brothers. You can’t always tell them apart.
Overcoming being a perfectionist is one of the hardest things many of us will ever do because chances are, we’ve been like this our entire lives and not just in the business realm. We want things to be as great as they can be and we find it hard to settle for anything less.
When it comes to business, this can lead to delayed launches or projects that never get to market. We pick it apart, come up with new ideas or ways to constantly improve it.
Now don’t get me wrong, being a perfectionist can be an incredible asset for us entrepreneurs because it also means that we won’t just throw out lousy products or services just to be doing something.
At the same time, we need to learn to let go and that nothing will ever be perfect no matter how much time or energy we spend on it.
The key is to start looking at perfectionism as an enemy to your business. It will cost you money and time. Being perfect is impossible and putting out an error-free product or a service that doesn’t ever encounter its share of hiccups is also unachievable.
One of the ways to improve productivity is to assign a time frame to each product either by days or hours, and stick to it. Set a deadline for yourself and be ruthless in not allowing any changes to be made.
Taking action is the only way you’ll ever get to the level of success that you deserve, so try to adopt the mindset that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be done. Launched is better than perfect.
Available is better than a project sitting on your hard drive. Sure, there’s always room to improve and you will, but only by being consistently productive and seeing things through.
I hope this post has given you a few different ideas as to how you can better manage your time and boost your day-to-day productivity.
I also hope it’s given you a bit of encouragement because we all need it regardless of what business we’re in, where we live, or who we are.
In closing, I’ll leave you with a few tips that have helped me to stay on track and maximize the value of the time I spent on my business.
Failures Will Make You a Better Entrepreneur
I know, hard to believe, but it’s true. If you accept that despite the best-laid plans and the most detailed business strategy known to man, you’re still going to encounter struggles and failures, then you’ll become a better, more confident and focused entrepreneur.
Don’t let mistakes or failures weigh you down.
Instead, learn from every mistake because they’re important lessons that will help you create better products or cater to clients and customers in a more effective way.
Set time limits on everything.
Just like we can easily go overboard with the time we spend on projects; we can equally do the same with our down-time. Try to create a balance between having a personal life and a consistent work one. Commit to a schedule and stick to it.
Perfectionists can easily waste a ton of valuable time by focusing on only one aspect of a project. Instead, work towards prioritizing your goals based on what’s most important. Focus on getting that done and you won’t struggle to meet deadlines or find yourself scrambling to get other things done because you spent too much time on just one thing.
That’s all for now. I wish you the very best of success!
Ready to get started monetizing and making more sales of your digital products? One of the best places to start is with this free downloadable ebook showing you exactly the steps for creating a digital product business.