“Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.”
This quote from Harold Jackson Brown Jr. is a reminder to busy entrepreneurs that they have the same amount of time as everyone else. It’s just the case of finding new ways to make their time as efficient and productive as possible.
On the surface, this sounds so simple, but in reality, life throws up constant challenges. To find out how to get more done in less time, we went straight to the experts – fellow entrepreneurs – and reveal the tips and tricks they swear by, perfected by years of trial and error.
1. Take your do-to lists to the next level
To-do lists are a staunch favourite, however, by themselves, they are often just long lists of vague tasks and as a result lack focus. You need to take it one step further. Invest time on a Monday morning to set your overall objectives for the week. Once you have these goals, work backwards. What smaller tasks do you need to achieve to reach your goal? How much time do you need to allow yourself to get individual jobs done in time? With these answers, you will be in a much stronger position to prioritise your tasks and set yourself deadlines.
Scheduling in realistic blocks of time each day will allow you to complete valuable tasks to a higher standard. Prioritising in this way will also reduce procrastination. Once you have a schedule, you’ll no longer be using your time scanning your to-do list for the easiest task to tick off because these decisions will have already been made for you.
2. Exercise in the morning
Seize the day – or at the very least the morning. As an entrepreneur, you’ll tend to work long hours and be glued to a computer or phone screen for the majority of that time. This is unhealthy, so make sure you make time for exercise.
Prioritise your morning workout like you would a conference call or a meeting. Exercising first thing will help to keep your energy levels high throughout the day, keep your mind alert and means you’ll sleep better when you do finally turn off your computer.
3. Make technology work for you
Tech is both a curse and a blessing when it comes to productivity. Just to trawl through the sheer number of ‘time saving’ tools on the market could take days, possibly weeks. So, by speaking to entrepreneurs and finding out the tools they swear by, I’ve done the legwork for you. Below are three time-saving apps recommended by fellow entrepreneurs:
Wunderlist: The best ‘to-do list’ app out there. As well as allowing you to manage your own progress, the new app allows you to share to-do lists with colleagues and assign tasks to individuals. This means you can collaborate seamlessly with your team, making sure they are constantly up to speed. It also eliminates the need for constant progress reports.
Doodle: Sick of playing email ping-pong to get a meeting in the diary with colleagues or clients? It streamlines the process, allowing you to finalise plans with just one email (this is our app!). Create an event online with potential dates, send it to your colleagues or clients and let them vote on the time that suits all. Once everyone has taken part, the app works out the best time for everyone and notifies you. Done.
[email protected]: This app is genius. It describes itself as a “neuroscience based music subscription service that helps you increase your attention span by up to 400%”. And it works. Put simply, it will curate a playlist specific to you and your needs at that time to help boost your concentration and focus levels; all the benefits of a Spotify playlist without losing an hour creating it.
4. Say no
If you’re only going to introduce one new thing into your productivity routine, learn to say ‘no’.
Entrepreneurs tend to bite off more than they can chew in an effort to stay competitive. The result is often an overworked and underperforming workforce. While it can be tough to say no, the simple fact is you can never be truly productive if you take on everything that comes your way.
Remember, productivity isn’t how much you’re doing, it’s how much you actually get done.
The productivity hacks above were compiled from The Productivity Book: 30 Professionals Talk About Time Management a 200 page ebook filled with personal stories and helpful tips from productivity experts to help make the reader be more productive with their time.