Productivity Guide for Entrepreneurs: 10 Habits to Develop to Work Smarter

It’s easy to wonder: how do they do it? You see CEOs and other entrepreneurs seemingly going to work every day with a lot of energy; a burning desire to make positive changes in society; and the enthusiasm to still have a great personal life.

And then there you are. On some days you barely have enough energy to get out of bed; you can’t remember the last time you went on a vacation; and you often relax by watching reruns of your favorite TV shows while having takeaway dinner. As a business owner, you have lofty goals – both for your business and for your personal relationships. But more often than not, things don’t really pan out the way you thought they would. For one thing, there are just too many things to do on a given day. Too many, in fact, that you feel like 24 hours is not enough.

Reality check: it’s not really the lack of time that’s the issue. Everyone has 24 hours in a day. It’s what you do with those 24 hours that’s important. Here are several habits you can learn in order to spend your time more productively.  

  1.    Learn to focus.        

In today’s hyper fast work pace, multitasking is all the rage. If you’re like a lot of people, you find yourself doing that on a regular basis too. After all, you reason that it allows you to get more things done faster. On the contrary, though, multitasking doesn’t work. It just makes you lose focus and, in turn, cause you to make mistakes you wouldn’t otherwise have made had you just concentrated on one thing at a time.   

  1.    Schedule email checking.         

Instead of being obsessed over your email and incessantly checking your mailbox every few minutes, acknowledge the fact that this compelling need may actually be your biggest distraction. You may counter that you need to check and reply to messages, which of course you do. But you don’t need to reply as soon as they arrive – do you? Decide on a reasonable frequency to check and catch up on your emails, say twice a day, and then stick with that schedule. You’ll be amazed how this simple shift gives you back your time. 

  1.    Minimize distractions.          

Just because you’re working doesn’t automatically mean you get it done well and finish it on time. You have to be deliberate about the last two. So how do you give yourself the best possible chance to successfully work on a task or project? Be intentional about eliminating – or at least minimizing distractions. For instance, choose a work space that’s really conducive to work; that means well-lit and well-ventilated, and quiet without unnecessary noises.

  1.    Learn from mistakes.          

When undertaking a venture, especially one that’s new and unfamiliar, don’t worry about whether or not you’ll commit mistakes – you will. Instead of being paralyzed by indecision and fear – in which case you tend not to act at all – treat mistakes as a necessary learning process for you. When you frame failures from that perspective, you’ll take a healthy approach to risk taking, and you’ll make continuous progress.  

  1.    Take small steps.           

When you’re faced with a big goal, it can seem so ambitious that you don’t even know where to start, and how on earth you’ll actually manage to nail it down. So rather than dwell on it, break it down into small actionable steps. This will help you view the goal as something realistically attainable, something that you can do a little at a time. You won’t fall into the trap of overanalyzing it – and then end up not doing anything about it in the end.  

  1.    Start the day early.           

This may be particularly challenging if you don’t consider yourself a morning person. But there’s just something about getting an early head start that sets you off on a productive note for the rest of the day. This doesn’t have to mean waking up at the crack of dawn if you really can’t manage it. It does mean, however, that you’re deliberate about setting aside at least a couple of hours alone first thing in the morning before you officially start your day. Take this time to reflect, meditate, get some exercise, or make plans.  

  1.    “Eat the frog” first.            

If you want to be productive, you’ll have to train yourself to “eat the frog” first every day. This is an expression which means doing your most difficult or dreaded task before you do anything else. Once you get that out of the way, you’ll find that the rest of the things you need to do don’t seem all that daunting anymore.  

  1.    Treat yourself occasionally.            

You can’t keep on working day in and day out and not expect yourself to be burned out at some point. You have a lot of things to do, of course, but when you reach a milestone (even a small one) learn to pause and reward yourself. This can be something simple like getting your favorite ice cream at the supermarket after you finish your proposal, or treating yourself to a movie after a long week of client meetings. The point is that you acknowledge you deserve a reward for all the work you’re doing.    

  1.    Eat well.            

You should never be too busy that you forget the importance of healthy meals in your overall productivity. Sadly, though, that’s the case for many people. Be conscious in incorporating a healthy and well-balanced diet into your regular routine; refrain from skipping meals even if your schedule is loaded; and keep sugary and processed snacks to a minimum.  

  1.   Plan your day the night before.            

Have you ever woken up in the morning already dreading how the rest of the day will go? If you have, then it makes sense to search for alternatives from feeling that anxious early on. A good strategy to try is making a plan for your next day before you sleep the night before. Identify the tasks you need to do, any important meetings you have to attend, and any other project that needs your attention. You wake up with an action plan already in place – and you won’t have to fret anymore.  

Life can be overwhelming, that’s a common conception. And as an entrepreneur, you have a seemingly endless list of tasks to accomplish, people to meet, and mundane chores to cross out of your list. That’s not about to change anytime in the foreseeable future. What you can change is your attitude and mindset.

What things help you be more productive, especially as an entrepreneur? We’d love to hear your tips and insights in the comments.