The truth is, most people actually know what they need to do, they just don’t do it. This is good news for you as an entrepreneur, because if you simply do what needs to be done and take action, you are already way ahead of the pack who are spinning their wheels.
Taking action is the only way forward, and that is why productivity, the art of getting things done, deserves all the attention it receives in the business and personal development world. Time is your most precious resource, so you must use it wisely.
But how do you become super productive and get more done in less time?
When I first started working for myself the majority of my days were quite aimless and full of procrastination, with the odd productive day thrown in.
Fast forward to now, after much testing and trailing various mental, emotional, and physical strategies to work both harder and smarter, I execute like never before and I rarely have an “off” day.
I’m no expert on productivity, but I’m sure that if you implement some of the following principles into your daily routine (and stick with it) you are bound to see a nice boost.
Before I get on with the good stuff, let me just say that being busy and being productive are two totally different things.
I’m sure you will have noticed, if you’ve ever worked as an employee before, the norm is to look as “busy” as possible to satisfy the manager or the boss, when in reality you probably avoided those critical and usually uncomfortable tasks that would actually have the most impact.
When you venture out into the entrepreneurial arena, it’s a whole different ballgame. Whether you eat or not, it’s all on your shoulders. You basically have two choices: become effective and actually get things done to produce a result, or go straight back to the dreaded daily grind taking orders from someone else and acting like a good little “busy” bee.
So without further ado here are 10 powerful ways to give yourself that much-needed kick in the backside to make the most of your day.
1. Always keep your eyes on the prize
Your overall productivity will basically come down to how motivated and fired up you are about what you’re striving towards. It is basically all a mental game.
If you’re in the zone and feel highly motivated and energized, what I like to call being in a “flow state”, taking action will be a piece of cake and actually NOT taking action would be harder to do. You will literally be pulled towards achieving your business goals because your vision is so compelling, and doing what is necessary will come naturally.
But we all know motivation comes and goes in waves, so how do you reignite that fire if you’re in a slump? First and foremost, you should always keep your eyes on the prize. By that I mean always to be aware of the big picture, to not let yourself get caught up in the details or challenges of the moment.
Know exactly what you’re ultimately working towards, and most importantly, WHY you want to make it happen. I find that actually writing your goals down and reading over them at least once a day is a very useful way to stay on track and keep motivation levels high.
I personally read all of my life goals (not just business) at least twice a day to keep my focus sharp, once immediately upon waking up and then again before going to bed at night. Some days I will even read them more times during the day to constantly remind myself of why I’m pushing myself and working hard.
2. Tackle one task at a time
Feeling overwhelmed is one of the greatest enemies to being an executer. As an entrepreneur you will most likely wear many different hats and have a never-ending To-Do list that seems to grow itself.
Keep things as simple as possible and avoid overwhelm by only focusing on one task at a time. Multitasking will more than likely reduce your overall effectiveness and slow your progress.
Simply pick a task that needs to be done, set aside a chunk of time with a timer if that helps you, and with laser-focus forget about the world around you until the task is done and dusted.
3. Take down the big guy first
The truth is, willpower doesn’t last. I recently came across an interesting analogy by a fellow entrepreneur, and he says that everyone has “one full cup of willpower” to use everyday. That means that you had better use your cup wisely and not waste it on low-yield tasks while avoiding that big intimidating task that you know would have the most impact on your business.
Tackle the big monster first when your cup is full and energy levels are at their peak, and then once you have finished it you will have created momentum in your day and everything else will feel like child’s play. If you do it the other way around and tick off all the little things first, chances are you won’t have much left in the tank when you go to attack the biggest task for the day and you’ll more than likely postpone it until “another day”, which quickly becomes “never”.
Stop procrastinating and just DO IT NOW. You will feel much better afterwards.
“Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.” – Dale Carnegie
4. Declare war on all distractions
When you work for yourself all of the responsibility for actually producing falls squarely on your shoulders, and yours alone. It’s all too easy to get distracted and to meander through your day spending half your time on time-wasting activities and taking one step instead of three.
If you work online, the distractions are twofold and there is nobody to stop you aimlessly browsing the net, checking social media, chatting to a friend, watching YouTube videos, checking emails, etc.
If you are serious about turning your business dreams into reality, you will do whatever it takes to minimize or completely remove distractions so you can focus on what matters most, hustling.
Turn off your phone, turn off the TV, put your blinders on and ignore everything but the task at hand. Learn to separate work and play and your effectiveness will soar.
When you’re finished your task list for the day you will feel great that you actually accomplished what you set out to do, and this will build confidence and positive momentum that will carry on into the next day. Once you get into this habit, it will become automatic and distractions will lose their power over you.
“One of the great challenges of our age, in which the tools of our productivity are also the tools of our leisure, is to figure out how to make more useful those moments of procrastination when we’re idling in front of our computer screens.” – Joshua Foer
5. Take frequent breaks to recharge and refocus
This may seem counterproductive as first, and you may be thinking how taking lots of breaks will help to get more done?
Well, what I have found is that taking many small 5 – 15 minute breaks spread throughout the day (perhaps once every hour or so) helps tremendously to keep you going stronger for longer.
This is especially important if you work at a computer, as getting away every now and then to rest your brain, your eyes and to move about and stretch your body will have you coming back to your desk fresh and focused to continue dominating your day.
If you just work flat out non-stop for hours on end you are much more likely to run out of willpower faster and burn yourself out.
6. Clear your workspace for maximum clarity
It’s amazing how much of a difference a clean and organized workspace can have. It keeps you mentally clear and focused, as having physical clutter translates into mental clutter and a foggy state of mind.
Even if you think that all of the mess isn’t affecting you, it likely is having a detrimental effect on you unconsciously. So get your act together and stay organized.
This also goes for your virtual workspace too. Keep your computer files well organized and don’t clutter your desktop with 100 different items to weigh you down every time you boot up.
7. Executers eat for energy
The truth is, your diet has a massive effect on your overall energy levels throughout the day, which therefore affects how productive you are. For example, eating a huge high-carb lunch will have you feeling so tired and flat afterwards that you can pretty much say goodbye to getting anything significant done that afternoon.
As well as avoiding huge and heavy meals that slow you down, if you’re serious about high productivity you should aim to eat energy-giving foods as opposed to energy-taking foods. Try to avoid too much processed foods, sugar, simple carbohydrates (white bread, most pasta, white rice etc) as these rob you of precious energy and mental focus.
Instead, focus on eating predominantly naturally healthy foods such as vegetables, low-GI carbohydrates, nuts, lean meats, and a bit of fruit (not too much though as it is sugar after all). Also don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
I’m not here to preach nutrition advice, but you really are what you eat, and if you value productive days eating a bad diet is going to really limit you. Success basically comes down to energy, so do anything in your power to promote your own energy and vitality.
On that note if you want to take your energy and vitality to another level I highly recommend juicing or blending vegetables to get in a ton of energy-giving nutrients. Since I started adding this to my daily routine, my energy levels have shot through the roof and I have never been more productive.
“Energy and persistence conquers all things” – Benjamin Franklin
8. Exercise is absolutely key
As well as your diet, exercise is another crucial part of becoming an executer. Ok, I know some of you may be thinking “Ok, I’ll let the diet pep talk slide, but now exercise? What on earth does that have to do with being productive?”, and my answer is “everything”.
Motion creates emotion. By that I mean that how you use your physical body affects your mind, and vice versa. If you change one, you change the other. Exercising will energize not only your body, but your mind, and will have you in a great motivated mood to kick some butt. I find that I’m almost always a lot more productive on days where I have exercised.
9. Sleep is NOT overrated
This should go without saying, but getting a good nights rest is crucial. I don’t know about you, but personally if I don’t find at least 7 hours of quality sleep the night before, my productivity wanes.
It’s as if my cup of willpower for the day has been downgraded to a mini shot glass. I have less focus and everything seems to require just a little bit more effort. So if you want to ensure you make the most of your day and you’re at your best, don’t sacrifice your sleep.
10. Become accountable to create leverage
If there is something that you keep putting off or that you just can’t get yourself to do, what you need is leverage to make yourself do it. One very powerful way to do this is to create a real consequence to not getting something done by having an accountability partner.
For example, you could give a trusty friend 100 dollars and tell them that if you don’t achieve X task by X date, you can keep the 100 bucks, and have them check up on whether you actually pulled through or not. Get creative and do whatever it takes to light a fire under you.
If you want to go from lazy to laser-focused, from poor-performing to productive, don’t expect it to happen overnight. Try adding one or two new habits to your schedule at a time, and give them some time to see if they work for you.
If you try to take on too many new habits all at once you’re only going to overwhelm yourself and increase the odds of you giving up altogether and running back to your old comfort zone of procrastination.
Also, don’t aim to be perfect. Everyone has their lazy days, and the key is to not beat yourself up when you do experience one. Don’t fall off the bike altogether and get caught up in a downward spiral of procrastination. Instead, just accept the fact that nobody is perfect, dust yourself off, and aim to do better next time.
Here are the 10 tips again for easy reference:
- Always keep your eyes on the prize
- Tackle one task at a time
- Take down the big guy first
- Declare war on all distractions
- Take frequent breaks to recharge and refocus
- Clear your workspace for maximum clarity
- Executers eat for energy
- Exercise is absolutely key
- Sleep is NOT overrated
- Become accountable to create leverage