You may have left the Monday to Friday 9-to-5 rat race, to enjoy more flexibility and set your own hours. However, if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’re working more than ever. It may be because you’re just starting out and there’s so much to do, or because you just love it so much, you can’t switch off. However, if you follow this path you risk burning out and affecting your health, business, wealth, and relationships.
Hence now is the time to work on increasing productivity and having more time for yourself, for your family, and for big picture stuff. Here are some ways to get more done (in lesser time).
“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Decide which tasks are truly important. Focus first on the tasks that will make you money, like sales. Focus next on the ones that enable you to make money, like marketing and production. Leave the other tasks for later, delegate them, or ignore them all together.
Remember that not everything urgent is important. When in doubt use the time management matrix popularized by Stephen Covey to increase productivity and reduce stress. It looks something like below:
The way we measure productivity is flawed. People checking their BlackBerry over dinner is not the measure of productivity. — Tim Ferriss
The more connected we are, the more distractions we can have. Most of the tasks we do require concentration, and you don’t want to be interrupted by emails, texts, and phone calls. If you have a project that demands your full attention, put the phone on silent, put it in a desk drawer, and get to work.
Emails can be a huge time sink, but few of them truly require an immediate response. Make it a point to check your emails only twice a day (and when you want to check it more often, remember that Tim Ferriss checks it like once a week). If you find you’re missing important ones, you might want to switch it up, so you’re checking every three or four hours (or better yet, consider using something like Slack and/or Trello). But don’t be a slave to it. Let your team know that an email won’t get an immediate response.
“If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate.” — Richard Branson
When you are first starting out, you have to do everything because you are the only employee. But as you hire staff, don’t get caught in the trap of continuing to do everything, or check over everyone else’s work. Trust your staff, and give them the tools they need to get the work done. Then let them do it.
Do Critical Things at Your Peak Times
Everyone has certain times of the day when they are most productive. Do the tasks that require the most concentration at your peak times, and you’ll get more done. Setting your own hours and working at your preferred time is one of the major perks of being an entrepreneur whether you work from home or an office, but do so responsibly.
“Being your own boss has to be used responsibly just like any other type of freedom.” – Syed Irfan Ajmal
Try the Pomodoro Technique
This time management technique was popularized in the 1980s but remains relevant today. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work uninterrupted on the task at hand for 25 minutes. When the timer goes off, set it again for 5 minutes. Walk away from the task and clear your mind. When the timer goes off again, your break is over, and it’s time to get back to work, whether on the same task or a different one. The 25-minute increment seems to be optimal for concentration.
Note from the editor (Syed Irfan Ajmal): You don’t need to have the tangible tomato-shaped device to use the Pomodoro time management technique. I just started using a free mobile app called Flat Tomato and it seems to work pretty good.
Use a Kanban Board
A Kanban board is a way to graphically arrange tasks so you can see their progression as they are accomplished. You can get a software to do this, or use a whiteboard or corkboard. Each task is broken down, and the steps are moved across the board to completion.
Here are some excellent (45+) Chrome extensions which will make you more productive and your work more fun.
– Shout out to Catherine Giese for sharing this awesome resource.
Whether you use your newfound time doing things that will grow your business, or enjoying time with your family and friends, it’s always good to get more done in less time.
What are your biggest hacks for increasing productivity for digital nomads?
Featured Image via Unsplash