In a recent interview, I was asked to provide some advice for the entrepreneur in creating a mindset for success. My answer was to be productive without the busywork. What does that even mean? Being productive isn't always easy and making sure you are getting the right things done can even be more of a challenge. Here are four strategies you can apply to your battle plan.
Systems Over Goals
● The issue with goals. While goals can be really helpful, they aren’t always ideal. Goals have one big problem: they have a termination point.
● You feel like a failure until you’ve completed your goal. Until you’ve reached your goal, you feel like a failure. You also can’t measure success until you cross it off your list. This can lead to feeling constantly defeated.
● Systems are more effective than goals. They let you make progress each day and guarantee your success.
● What is a system? A system is a series of actions you consistently take to reach your desired goal. If you follow the system, you eventually reach the goal.
● Goals can be too rigid. While goals can be good, they can also be very rigid and unmoving. Being overly focused on a goal can give you tunnel vision. You miss all the progress you made even if you didn’t totally complete your goal.
● Goals limit your happiness. Once you’ve hit your goal, your feeling of happiness fades. You have to set another, bigger goal. A system, on the other hand, let’s you always feel like you’re making progress toward something.
● Systems work better for entrepreneurs. They’re more flexible. If something isn’t working, you can change it. Additionally, systems have day-to-day improvements built into them. This gives you a sense of progress and forward movement.
● Evaluate yourself and the systems you have in place. Do you have systems that are moving you toward your big goals?
The Early Bird Gets Things Done
● The most successful entrepreneurs tend to be early risers. Tim Cook, Richard Branson, Howard Schultz, and many other business leaders rise early so that they’re more productive.
● Early risers are more productive. While night owls are prone to negative thought patterns, early risers tend to achieve more, get better grades in school, and have more opportunities throughout their lives.
● Go to bed earlier. While the late evening hours may feel like a good time to be productive, your energy is limited. If you have trouble going to bed earlier, start small. Go to bed an hour earlier and rise an hour earlier.
● Turn off screens several hours before bedtime. Using screens in the hours leading up to bed has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns.
● Create a healthy sleep routine. A sleep routine enables you to go to sleep and rise at the same hour every day. Eventually, you may find that you don’t need an alarm clock.
● Get some exercise. Exercise has been scientifically proven to increase time spent in deep sleep, as well as improve the quality of your sleep.
● Move your alarm clock away from your bed. This will force you to get up out of bed in the morning and prevent you from hitting the snooze button.
● Splash cold water on your face. This can help wake you up when you’re groggy.
● Give yourself a motivating reason to get up. The more motivation you have to get out of bed, the more likely you’ll want to wake up early.
Kill Your Distractions
● Distractions kill productivity. Emails, text messages, and phone calls - the distractions are endless.
● Make your plans the night before. This can include both small plans, like what to wear and what you’ll eat for lunch, as well as bigger plans, like planning on working on a project from 8:00 - 10:00 AM. By planning in advance, you eliminate the need to think about it and can focus simply on getting things done.
● Cut back on social media. Few things are more distracting than social media. By only allowing yourself to be on social media during specific times, you can ensure that you’re focused on doing the work that matters the most to you. Use your most productive hours for real work, not social media.
● Create boundaries for interruptions. There will be times when you need to check email, make phone calls, or respond to text messages. But you should only do this during specified times each day. This enables you to focus on meaningful work.
● Create a productive workspace. Designate a space where you only do productive work. This trains your brain to know that when you’re in that space, you’re going to be 100% focused on getting things done. Have a separate space for doing fun things. Ensure that you keep the two apart.
● Make time for rest and play. Your brain needs time to unwind, relax, and take a break. You can’t be 100% focused all day long. By taking time to rest and play, you allow your brain to recharge and refocus.
Slay Your Dragons
● Identify your most challenging tasks. Your “dragons” are your most challenging, important tasks. Slay your dragons first thing each day.
● It’s more productive to do your hard tasks first. It can be tempting to do easy tasks first in order to get a sense of accomplishment. However, research has demonstrated that those who do their most challenging tasks are generally more successful and productive.
● Attack your most difficult tasks first. If you want to reach your fullest potential, make a plan to tackle your hardest, most important tasks first thing each day. If you don’t plan to do it, you’ll inevitably gravitate toward easy tasks.
● Set yourself up for success. If you choose your hardest tasks first, it sets you up for success for the rest of the day and the next day as well.
One: Systems Over Goals. Two: The Early Bird Gets Things Done. Three: Kill Your Distractions. Four: Slay Your Dragons. Can it really be that simple? Not for most. Changing behavior is challenging but I encourage you to start with at least one of these strategies. They can really make a difference in you becoming more productive with less busywork.
Here is the interview by Jeremy Williams of Red Hawk Coaching that inspired this article:
Please keep me posted on how it is working for you! You can email me at email@example.com
is the President of the Greater East Montgomery Chamber of Commerce and Owner/Founder of LocalMeA - The Best of Local
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