Productivity Tips To Help Entrepreneurs Avoid Burnout
By: Alysha McLean, MNLP, MTLT, MCHT
Entrepreneurs are often expected to be productive, as this is seen as the key to success.
Productivity in its simplest term, is defined as the amount of work that a worker does during work hours.
Productivity is particularly important in small businesses over larger corporations, because resources are scarce and need to be used carefully and strategically.
This is part of the reason entrepreneurs often question their level of productivity. Did they put enough effort in a particular project or work long enough for the day? Answers are usually found by them spending even more time at work, ultimately reducing their social life and sometimes family life, leading to a decline in their mental wellness and quality of life.
Serial entrepreneur, Elon Musk, has admitted to working over 17 hours each day of the week, before confirming that the habit was not healthy. Too many entrepreneurs believe that this is the route to success.
However, while hard work and dedication are essential to building a business, it is doing a task in the right way at the right time that will help determine someone’s success.
Here are some productivity tips that can help you become more productive and avoid burnout.
Prioritize your to-do list
A to-do list forces you to itemize all of the activities you have to complete within a day or for a project. But not everything on your list will be urgent or important. Prioritizing the to-do list gives you a detailed structure or plan for carrying out your duties.
Smartphones and apps have made the creation of a to-do list like a fun project.
Some popular ones are:
- Google Keep
Get rid of the unnecessary things
Get rid of anything which isn’t helping you to make money and focus on your most important goals. By doing this, you place your focus and energy on elements of your business that need that time and attention.
Create time blocks
If you find it difficult to focus on your tasks, time blocking can help. These are small blocks of scheduled time throughout your day when you can focus on only one task. For example, ‘prospecting – 9:30-10:15 am’. Nothing else should be done in that period. This allows for maximum efficiency of the task you’re trying to optimize and gives you a clear picture of how much you’re able to do within a given period. You can then use this for future planning and budgeting.
Find an accountability partner
There are benefits of having someone hold us accountable for our actions or lack thereof. Once you set a goal, it’s easy to start working towards it but when multiple challenges arise, you may find your desire to achieve that goal starts to take a back seat. Knowing that you must answer to someone for not achieving your goal might motivate you to continue despite the challenges. Your accountability partner should be someone with a similar mind-set regarding business and growth. They must also want you to succeed just as much or more than you do. Otherwise, this relationship will not go very far.
We all know your days are busy, and you think you’re a pro at multitasking. However, the truth is, multitasking is truly anti-productive. You’ll bounce from one task to another, seemingly productive until you stop and realize that you have completed none of them.
Research shows that multitasking is a myth and is both ineffective and inefficient. Studies show that as you switch from one task to another, the transition is not a smooth one, as your brain takes some time to refocus. Multitasking takes as much as 40 per cent more time than focusing on one task at a time.
A study proved that those who think they are great multitaskers made more mistakes, took longer to complete tasks and remembered fewer details than those who chose to focus on one thing at a time. You would never believe this 10 years ago when you started the business, but having lived through it, we now realize that what is being said is totally true. Multitasking efficiently does not exist.
Get rid of distractions
This is absolutely easier said than done because most of us can’t typically identify, or we are unwilling to admit what distracts us most. The worst of distractions are often masked in unproductive work, research or breaks. For example, you go to Pinterest to research something for a client and as you click through, you realize that there are so many interesting posts that you have missed. You then take what you believe to be a small amount of time to read one post, which leads to five or six. Before you know it, you have wasted an hour and have not completed the original research. If you’re like this, then installing an app like RescueTime will help. RescueTime requires you to categorize each app or site you use or visit on a productive/unproductive scale, and then generates basic reports showing you how you truly spent your time.
Learn the power of no
It’s not always easy saying no. No probably means you are declining work. This certainly doesn’t sound like a wise business decision!
But, if you are to be as productive as you can be, it may mean turning down projects or saying no to clients or responsibilities that will not help you to achieve the goals you have set for yourself or your business. Focus only on meaningful and valuable tasks that get you closer to your profits and the growth of your business. Of course, as a leader, it is your responsibility to get that message across professionally.
Here are three ways to say no, while maintaining your professionalism:
1. Let me think about it
a. This is a great way of saying no indirectly and giving yourself some time to truly see if this is a project or client you can add to your plate. Always give it some thought before going back with an answer and stick to the deadline in responding.
2. The idea sounds great, but I don’t have the time. Let me recommend someone who can help
a. Always start on a positive note so as not to come off rude. You can thank the person for thinking about you and then suggest a suitable stand-in.
3. I can’t today but I should be free ….
a. Do not use this unless you are absolutely sure that you want to do the job. Your clients will hold you to your word. If you realize afterward that you will still be unavailable, contact the client as soon as possible.
You are but one person, although you wear the hats of 10. It is more than likely that you possess some of the skills needed in your business but certainly not all of them to a competent degree. It is OK to acknowledge this and delegate responsibilities and tasks to those who are competent to manage them. This way, you will free up your time to concentrate on tasks that you are good at doing.
Nowadays, it seems as though the world never stops. Newsfeeds are continuous and the constant requirement to connect to whomever, whenever, and Like, Share, Comment AND Subscribe, has forced us to always be ‘on’. This is mentally draining. Time spent on social media platforms has increased exponentially over the years. The amount of time has increased from 90 minutes daily in 2012 to 2 hours and 22 minutes daily in 2021. Social media will eat up a lot of time that you could spend reenergizing to put more into your business.
Don’t be afraid to turn off your phone when going to bed or logging out of your social media accounts. You can also silence your phone and turn off notifications to apps you naturally frequent each day.
Did you know that organizing your workspace and having less ‘stuff’ can decrease your anxiety, thereby increasing your productivity? Less clutter around you helps you to think more clearly and waste less time searching for items and documents that may be misplaced or buried under mounds of unnecessary trinkets, boxes, and papers.
Allocate 2 hours to map out the week ahead. During the 2 hours, whether done all at once or broken into segments, you should assess your goals, analyze what’s working for you and what’s not, and schedule your calendar for the coming week.
So how’s it different from regular scheduling?
The 2 hour session requires you to schedule all your time.
You schedule your ‘green time’ (work that you earn from), ‘red time (activities that support your green time), ‘flex time’ (unblocked time used to handle anomalies that threaten your scheduled activities), and ‘re-creation’ time (time used to take care of yourself, example, exercise, rest or relaxation). Are you interested in ensuring your productivity at work? Book your discovery call with Kathleen Black Coaching and Consulting today.
Alysha McLean, Elite Coach, Kathleen Black Coaching & Consulting
Alysha McLean is a high-energy Realtor and Business Coach in the Greater Toronto Area, who specializes in Mindset, Marketing and Relationship building. She has experience as an individual Real Estate agent, team member and team leader. Having leveraged Kathleen Black’s training, coaching, and systems in her own business, Alysha is passionate about helping others experience these results for themselves.