Are you spending your time wisely as an entrepreneur?
Which projects we work on as entrepreneurs throughout the day are paramount to our bottom line. Any given day, as an entrepreneur, there are numerous, perhaps countless, tasks we could be tackling. The real magic comes in our decision to prioritize. It’s the differentiator.
With so much I want to achieve, I’m regularly questioning and evaluating how I spend my days. Being honest, for many years I have had uncertainty regarding my time management. With several ventures on the go, all of which have grown significantly over the past couple years, I sometimes find it difficult to determine how best to allocate time. Which project, employees and customers get my full and undivided attention, and when?
On the one hand, I must build for the future – working on the blue sky opportunities so to speak, but that means no near-term ROI. And I must nurture and keep pushing harder on the ventures which are in substantial growth periods. Take nothing for granted when you have momentum, but always be fostering those *germs of ideas we innovators are known for and make our livelihood from.
* Following through on new ideas can make money for years in the future. It’s amazing how one simple decision to explore an idea on a slow summer day can lead to profits and determine your company’s direction throughout the next business cycle.
To continually grow, and achieve new levels of success, my days consist of customer service, employee coaching, marketing evaluation and strategizing, undisturbed creative time just for me (intended to harvest new ideas), and project management. All of these duties could be full-time jobs on their own, so efficiently utilizing my time by giving each my undivided attention is critical; there are only about 12 hours (14 if you push it – but comes at a cost to your health) in a day to work after all… and scientific studies have shown that we only operate at the top of our mental game for about 4 of those hours.
With all that in mind, I want to share four time management/productivity tips that have helped me catapult to new levels of entrepreneurial success, both financially and personally…
4 Time Management Tips for Entrepreneurs to Improve Productivity and Purpose
Have a dedicated creative time (early-morning or late at night): It’s impossible to be creative if you’re being interrupted. And let’s face it, entrepreneurs are constantly interrupted throughout the typical work day (8 to 5). But without dedicated creative time for future ventures, marketing ideas and so forth, you will die as an entrepreneur. Innovate or die, as I like to say.
Commit to uninterrupted and daily innovation time — your chance to think creatively — for at least one hour. You need to either do this first thing in the morning or late at night when the phone isn’t ringing, and customers or employees aren’t requesting your attention. Be militant about your creative time; it is sacred. Don’t let anyone interrupt it.
Dedicated time to online: No matter what, every day, you, the founder of your company, must dedicate time online to growing your business and expanding brand awareness. Most likely, your brand is YOU.
Yes, you can outsource most online work for your business, but it is well-known that in this day and age, customers want to feel connected to founders. Putting a face and personal story behind the company is critical to customer loyalty.
In the past, loyalty programs kept customers coming back – today it is emotional connections. Simply put, people will gladly pay more if they like you.
Look at Elon Musk, for example. The guy is running two of the most well-known companies on earth right now, yet he dedicates at least some time to relay a message on Twitter about the latest happenings at Tesla or SpaceX. He’ll even engage in banter with his haters and share ideas with potential and current customers.
Another example of the value of posting daily messages online is found with MMA superstar Conor McGregor. The guy has built a powerful online presence via Twitter and Instagram which has helped him make 50X what other, just as successful, UFC fighters do.
And lastly, look at Trump. It can be argued he won the presidency because of his daily social messages. He cut through the media’s bias against him by building his channel online to counter his detractors and engage with his audience. Trump’s followers knew that his tweets, more often than not, were authentic and written by the man himself. That built his ‘customer loyalty’ better than anyone else in American political history.
The leverage from being active online can’t be matched. It takes time and commitment, but it pays. On your company website, no matter the business, start a blog and commit to contributing on a routine basis. Find a social media platform that you enjoy, and commit to building a following on it. Depending on the type of business you run, there’s a social media platform that’ll work well.
One piece of advice: no matter what you’re writing, have your work edited. Nothing loses credibility quicker than poorly written content with grammatical errors.
Emails are a necessary evil – utilize and don’t shy away: Many time management experts tout the same advice when it comes to email: respond once or twice daily. That is bunk advice.
Aside from your writing and creative time, responding to emails promptly is important. Your email account related to your business should be just for that. No newsletters or social media updates should be showing up in your work email. Your work email is for customers and employees only. If you keep it dedicated to solely the business, chances are most of what you receive throughout the day will be of substance.
- Clean out your work email from any unrelated subscriptions today. Have this as the only email address connected to your phone. Moving forward, when you receive an email, you’ll know it’s business related and possibly time sensitive.
- Establish a culture in your office that employees should email based on a given criteria of topics. Encourage questions regarding operations when you get together for a daily or weekly brainstorm, instead of having to craft long-winded responses via emails to your team members.
- Don’t get tied up in a back and forth email chain with customers. It takes way longer to write and send responses to customers than it does chatting on the phone. Additionally, talking to your customer builds rapport faster than email. After one email, if the issue isn’t resolved, ask for your customer’s number and give them a call. It’s a win win.
Take breaks every 2 hours: This sounds counterproductive, but to maintain a high level of focus, you need to take breaks from your work throughout the day. These aren’t long breaks, but 5-10 minutes. Most people can only focus at a high level for around 45 consecutive minutes. So two hours is pushing it, but a realistic amount of time.
If I’m stuck in the office, my breaks usually consist of a quick game of FIFA on XBOX. If I am working out of town, I use the break to make a tea or coffee and go for a quick walk. Whatever it is for you, step away for a few minutes every couple of hours. It will help maximize your productivity.
As an entrepreneur, you must hold yourself accountable. Therefore, it’s important to reflect on how you’re spending your days, whether the activities you’re choosing to focus on are bearing fruit, and if your company is better off in the near and long-term. Understand that just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you’re doing anything worthwhile. Protect your time.
Critique your time management weekly and use these four tips to help improve productivity.
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