Launching a business is incredibly time-consuming. It's even more challenging when you're holding down a full-time job. With only 24 hours in the day, how can you manage your time so that you can fulfill your existing personal and professional commitments while dedicating the time required to launch your business?
For the past year, I have struggled with this problem myself. Every day, I have had so many balls in the air that I might as well be a professional juggler. To survive this period and be effective, an entrepreneur-with-a-job needs a system to identify the best use of his or her time; otherwise life will spiral out of control, causing burnout.
I found my own system by seeking counsel from my mentor, and discovered the following three productivity hacks for launching a business while holding down a day job:
1. Ask yourself the right questions ahead of time.
Every night before you go to bed, sit down with a blank sheet of paper and ask yourself the following questions, then write the answers down:
- What are the highest income and impact actions I can take for my day job?
- What are the highest income and impact actions I can take for my new business?
- What are the highest impact actions I can take for my relationships with my family and friends?
- What are the highest impact actions I can take for myself personally?
By this step, you have a list of the highest income and impact actions you need to take. Many people would just start taking action on the list, but to be effective and ensure that the right things are being done, you should first prioritize them.
Your goal is to get the maximum results with the minimum effort required. To do this, ask yourself: “If I could complete only one thing on this list by the end of tomorrow, what would that one thing be that would make me feel like the day was a success?” Then repeat this process, assuming the first task has been completed, until your list is fully prioritized.
3. Block your time.
If you were to complete just steps 1 and 2, you would likely see gains in your productivity. However, the reality is that there are more items on your list than can be done in a day, not to mention the infinite distractions you'll find will constantly threaten your productivity.
For my part, as I began these steps, I constantly felt scattered and was still not getting things done to my satisfaction The solution came during my interview with Jay Papasan for my podcast The Mentee.
Papasan and his partner Gary Keller of Keller Williams wrote about the concept of "time blocking" in their book The One Thing, which I recommend.
You are probably already used to scheduling important meetings in your calendar. Time blocking just means doing the same thing: making appointments with yourself to accomplish the vital actions you identified in Step 2.
By proactively blocking off your time, you can move through your day with the confidence that every item on your calendar will be the best use of your time and will generate the maximum results. I saw the biggest productivity gains because I stopped having to ask, “What should I be doing next?”
It was already decided. And I didn't get distracted and end up checking email or social media. I would simply look to my calendar, see what the next "appointment" was and take action.
At the point at which you become disciplined in implementing these three productivity hacks, you will find yourself accomplishing more in one day than you did the whole entire week before.
These three hacks are not earth-shattering, of course. But like anything in business, the results lie in your ability to take action and execute. You just invested your most valuable resource, your time, to read this article.
Will you next ensure a return on your investment by taking action and implementing what you just read? For those of you who do, I’m confident you will be pleased with the results.