The most challenging part of becoming a successful entrepreneur is time. You simply don’t have enough of it.
Once you get to a certain age, you might have a full-time job, kids, friends, family, and/or a spouse who wants your time. Add it all up, and where are you going to find the time to start a successful business?
This article can’t change your obligations. What it will do is help you free up a few hours of your day and make those hours as productive as humanly possible.
1) Cut Things Out Of Your Life
Budgeting time is very similar to budgeting money. The first thing you need to do is figure out where all your time is going; Then, cut out the obvious waste.
But Shaun, “I have to go to work, I have to raise my kids, I can’t cut ANYTHING.”
Really? You spend your entire day only doing productive and essential tasks? I call Bullshit.
This might be easier to see if I give some examples from my life.
- I used to watch the news (AKA fear and anger porn) for an hour a day.
- I used to be on social media constantly.
- I used to play lots of video games.
- I used to go to bars for way too much time and then spend even more time hungover the next day.
- I used to spend time at work, sitting around bored when they had nothing for me to do.
I’m not saying you do all these things or that if you do partake in them, you need to cut them from your life immediately. What I am saying is you spend at least an hour a day doing wasteful stuff.
You need to free up at least an hour or two per day to achieve your goals. And these non-essential activities are going to be the easiest place to find that kind of time.
2) Be Productive Instead of Busy
During my first year of blogging, I only produced 16 blog posts.
I felt swamped that year. I had a demanding full-time job, I built my own WordPress theme, I took time out to code some iPad apps. I learned buttloads about SEO, photography, videography, graphic design, Pinterest marketing.
I worked on everything except my primary objective of completing blog posts. I fell into the busy trap. I felt very busy every day, to the point where I felt stressed and overwhelmed at times. But, I wasn’t actually making real progress towards my end goal.
This trap is an easy one to fall into, everyone struggles with this to some degree. Many of the following tips exist solely as ways to keep you out of this state.
3) Prioritize Tasks
This is your defense against doing all the tasks besides blogging when your goal is to become a blogger.
You want to wake up each day and ask yourself what’s the most impactful thing you can work on today. Plan this out before you begin working each day.
Had I done that, I’d have written well more than 16 articles in my first year blogging. Give yourself a daily reminder of your primary goal and remember to put those tasks first more often than not.
4) Break Down Goals Into Small Actionable Tasks.
Some People write down tasks like “Become a Doctor” or “Get Rich Blogging.”
When your task feels monumental, you’ll begin to experience a host of emotions. Fear of failure. Overwhelm. You’ll feel disappointed each day that you haven’t accomplished your goal.
Most people will decide to go watch TV instead of continuing to face these feelings day in and day out. It’s a big reason why we so often fail to accomplish big goals.
There’s a simpler way to counter this than to “tough it out.” Break down your tasks into as small a chunk as humanly possible each day. Stop having a goal of “Become a successful blogger” and start having the goal of “write 500 words and produce an image today”.
Now that’s a task you can actually do! One that won’t feel as overwhelming because you can achieve it right now! And if you fail today, it’s no big deal, you can get up tomorrow and try again.
5) Batch Your Tasks
Back in step 1, when you were cutting things out of your life, you went, “Crap, I still have to check my emails.”
That’s fair, but do you need to check it every 15 minutes? Or get real-time notifications the second something pops into your inbox?
The cool thing about email is that no reasonable person expects you to get back to them in real-time. And nobody expects a response to an email at night.
You only need to check your email between 8 am and 5 pm on weekdays. And even then, if you respond within 2 hours, most people will see that as punctual. So, are you checking your email more than 5 times per day? If so, you could save time by batching.
And while we’re on the subject, batch your texts/phone calls while checking emails. Batching will save you more time than you think.
6) Eliminate Task Switching
If I’m writing a blog post, and suddenly I get a text from my Mom, it will completely throw me out of the zone I was in. Switching mental states has a sustantial cost associated with it.
Because of this, you’re going to do everything in your power to avoid distractions. In the modern era, this means…
Put your phone on silent all day long. Mute group texts. Mute emails. Mute everything! You get the idea. The best way to handle this is to pay attention! If something distracts you, note what it is and figure out a way to prevent it from distracting you again.
Seriously, start unsubscribing from emails or filtering them into folders. Start telling people not to bug you during the hours you’ve freed up for yourself. Do whatever it takes so that you have these couple of hours to yourself each day.
7) Eliminate Multitasking
I want you to continue reading this article. But, while you’re doing that, start patting your head. And now rub your belly simultaneously.
Individually each of those tasks is quite easy for you. But together? You’re noticing that you’re not good at any of these things.
Remember when I said people tend to fall into the busy trap? This is one of the primary ways in which they do that. When you’re working on your most essential task each day, I want you to be present and focused only on that one thing.
Many people struggle with this. I recommend you try out the headspace app to get some practice on reducing mental clutter.
8) Burnout is Real, Take Breaks.
I despise the word hustle.
Yes, to become a successful entrepreneur, you will need to work hard. But, some people act like you need to spend every waking minute working to be successful. I disagree, too much “hustling” is a recipe for burnout. It will get you nowhere fast.
Take blogging, for instance. Will the guy who blogs 14 hours a day have a better blog than the guy who blogs extremely efficiently for 2 hours a day?
It’s a tough question to answer, but I’d bet on the non-burnt out efficient person. Your “hustle” does not equate to success in creative endeavors. Focus on efficiency, a habit where you work for an hour or two a day, and take breaks.
9) Eat & Sleep
I can’t tell you what way of eating and sleeping will work best for you.
What I can tell you is that if you’re hungry or sleepy, you won’t be productive. This article is about finding productivity gains, and you can find several in the way you eat and sleep.
My main tip is consistency. Create a consistent eating/sleeping schedule and stick to it. Every day. Make it a habit.
Also, one diet hack. I recently tried keto. And while there is no miracle diet. This diet has caused me to realize that carbs cause energy fluctuations. AKA I get sleepy after eating carbs and not eating carbs keeps me energetic and productive.
Not saying it will work for you. Just saying to find what works for you and make it a habit.
10) Automate Tasks
People used to pay their bills by physical mail. Now we can get them auto-deducted from our checking accounts. Buying stamps used to be a thing you had to do, and now it isn’t thanks to technology.
Automation is usually quite cheap and well worth the cost. You may have to kiss a few software frogs before you find your software prince. But, at the end of the day, continuing to experiment with automation on an ongoing basis is well worth it.
When it works, it’s a magical time saver.
11) Systematize Tasks
I used to go to the store to buy food every couple of days.
Yes, I NEED to eat. But, I could have bought enough food for a month and eliminated nearly a dozen trips to the store.
This is, in essence, what systematizing is. You change your approach to how you do something, and tasks magically disappear from your life.
These efficiencies are hard to spot. It’s hard to look in the mirror and honestly ask yourself how you can do things differently. But, these task eliminators are even more beneficial than automation. Systematizing makes tasks disappear entirely.
12) Outsource Tasks
Many of you aren’t in a position to pay other people to take some tasks off your plate.
But, if you do find yourself running a business that makes money, you can then use that money to pay people to do your essential tasks for you. Freeing up more of your time to grow the business further. Which allows you to outsource more work.
Even if you do find yourself with lots of money, this option isn’t always as great as it seems. It’s tough to find good help, particularly if you don’t have a lot of money to throw around.
My advice for fledgling businesses is to avoid hiring employees until you can’t avoid it anymore. Instead, hire services or specialists.
An example would be instead of hiring a person to clean your house each week, hire a cleaning service. Instead of hiring a person to answer customer service emails, hire a customer service center. Specialists will almost always be cheaper and more manageable.