Entrepreneurs live hectic lives -- long days at the office can be attributed to a never-ending list of responsibilities, and extended office hours means less personal and family time.
While every entrepreneur has the same number of hours in each day, you can make your time more productive by becoming extremely organized. Here are six organizational tips that will lead to more productive days.
1. Plan your days the evening before.
Taking 15-minutes every evening to plan out your next day allows you to begin each morning with a clearly defined purpose. When you have a plan already mapped out you can attack each task and immediately move to the next one when completed. There is no time wasted trying to decide what to do next.
Imagine if you completed seven tasks in a day and spent 10-minutes between each one trying to figure out what task you were going to tackle next. That is an hour of wasted time that could have been spent being productive rather than figuring out your next move.
2. Take full advantage of your mornings.
The morning sets your pace for the entire day and it is also provides you with a block of time that will be completely free of distractions -- no phone calls and no emails -- it is 100 percent “you” time.
I wake up at 5:30 every morning, seven days a week, in order to stick to my routine. I hit the gym and then after working out I have 7 to 8:30 a.m. mapped out as “me” time. I use this time to write, which is something that I do because I truly love it -- it’s almost therapeutic. This is when I write for my company’s blog or for other media outlets, such as Entrepreneur.com.
The combination of physical exercise and mental stimulation from writing allows me to start the day firing on all cylinders.
3. Learn to delegate properly.
You can’t do everything -- I know, I didn’t believe it at first either. I thought I could stack task on top of task and eventually get them all done. I was so wrong. If you keep doing that, everything will come crashing down and you will lose precious time getting caught up.
Part of being organized involves making sure that everything that needs to get done is properly delegated. When your business is running like a well-oiled machine you free up the time that was previously wasted on trying to control chaos.
4. Treat your desk like a surgeon’s table.
Surgeons' tables are spotless and everything is organized and laid out perfectly -- providing the doctors with a work environment that allows them to do their jobs efficiently without having to search for anything.
Keeping your desk neat, clean and organized eliminates wasted time trying to find anything. A few minutes here and a few minutes there every day quickly add up to unnecessary wasted time.
5. Create an email-checking schedule.
There are two email-checking habits that will kill your productivity -- constantly refreshing and ignoring email altogether.
Constantly refreshing your email every hour is a major time-suck if you are going to stop what you are doing to reply to emails every time your refresh reveals new emails. Let’s face it, we receive a lot of emails throughout the day -- they aren't going to stop and you can't possible reply to each one as they come in.
If you ignore your email it leads to a backed up inbox that will end up taking much longer to clear out -- not to mention the mess delayed communication can cause.
Create an email schedule and try your best to stick with it. I like to tackle my email four times a day, spending 15 to 20 minutes on the task each time. My schedule looks like this: I first start my day to handle emails that came in over night, before lunch to take care of all morning emails, mid-afternoon to keep up with the afternoon emails and then finally before I leave for the day to ensure that I addressed everything that came to me during business hours.
Even maintaining a strict email schedule still takes a solid hour of my day -- if I wasn’t organized that number would be significantly higher.
6. Schedule personal time -- and don’t cheat yourself out of it.
Working nonstop leads to stress and fatigue -- this can ruin your focus and completely kill your productivity. You have to step away to recharge and essentially take time off in order to get more done.
Schedule personal time and don’t just say you will take time off when you can -- because that approach doesn’t work. When you work that personal time into your schedule you account for everything that needs to get done, allowing you to step away knowing everything will run smoothly. Dedicate this time to family, friends or hobbies -- anything that isn’t work related.
Do you have a favorite tip that has helped save you time and improve your productivity? If so, share it in the comments section below.