If you’re a freelancer or solo entrepreneur, time is your most valuable asset. You’ve only got 24 hours in a day but an infinite list of things to do. How do successful entrepreneurs manage? Here’s a hint: They don’t try to do it all.
Here are five things that super productive entrepreneurs do, plus tips on how to integrate their productivity habits into your own life:
1. They know how to prioritize
The Pareto Principle suggests that about 80 percent of your results come from about 20 percent of your efforts. Super productive entrepreneurs know that they should focus their time and energy on the 20 percent of tasks that create the 80 percent of results. So they prioritize.
In your business, set priorities based on your business goals and the results you want to achieve. Don’t try to do everything. Spreading yourself too thin can lead to burnout and poor quality work. On the flip side, doing less will help you build momentum. As you achieve goal after goal, you’ll be more motivated to keep tackling your to do list.
2. They create routines
Even though entrepreneurs have the flexibility and freedom to work at any time, successful entrepreneurs typically find a routine that works for them and stick to it.
Routines are essential because they automate your business processes and limit decision fatigue. You don’t have to think about what to do every hour of the day when you follow a routine. Plus, following a routine cuts back on distraction. When you know what you should be doing, it’s easier to avoid the lure of the t.v., social media, and celeb gossip websites.
3. They set boundaries
Have you ever emailed a popular blogger or website and heard…crickets? For many busy entrepreneurs, this is the fastest and easiest way to say “no.”
You should also start saying no. It’s important to set boundaries with your clients, family, and friends, especially when you work from home. Protect your most productive time by saying no to events or commitments that will suck up your energy. If you have kids, teach them that you are not always available; there is a time for playing and a time for working.
You may also have to set boundaries with yourself. If you have trouble focusing when you work from home, then go to the library or a cafe. If you get distracted by all the happenings on the Internet, shut off notifications, or better yet, turn off your wi-fi when you’re doing work that doesn’t require it.
4. They batch their work
Switching tasks sucks up time and energy; multitasking is even worse for your productivity. You can limit the number of times you switch tasks each day, and totally eliminate multitasking, by working on one type of work for a sustained period of time.
To batch your work, block off large chunks of time for each type of task. For example, I draft 3-4 blog posts during a four hour block of time. I spend two hours on a Sunday night scheduling all my social media updates for the week.
5. They know themselves
There is so much advice on productivity on the web, and much of it conflicts. Productive entrepreneurs know themselves and what works for their lifestyle.
Some people get more work done if they wake up early and complete their hardest task first. Other people need to get email out of the way, otherwise it weighs on them and distracts them. Some people swear by short bursts of work, followed by even shorter breaks. Others do better when they focus for 90 minutes or more and take longer breaks.
Try a variety of productivity strategies and see what works best for you. Don’t stress if some common piece of advice doesn’t work. The beauty of being your own boss is that you can tweak your routine and work flow until you find the best way to maximize your productivity.
You can improve your productivity, you just need to take control of your schedule and your business. Find your priorities, say no to things that don’t help you achieve those priorities, and create a routine that works for you.
Do you have a simple and sustainable productivity tip? If so, please share in the comments!
Author’s Bio: Emily McGee is a freelance writer, a mom, an expat, and the founder of My Adaptable Career, which offers productivity tips for solo entrepreneurs. Between parenting, moving every year or two, and managing life in a developing country, Emily doesn’t have a lot of spare time. She focuses on growing her business intentionally and using creative strategies to stay productive. For a quick productivity win, download her free checklist: 42 things you can do tonight to make tomorrow more productive.