I truly believe that one of the key elements of success as an entrepreneur is being productive and effective with your time. No matter who you are, what you do, or what your business is, success will come easiest if you are accomplishing as much as possible in your day, and leaving time for the things you love.
I’ve been in business for over seventeen years now and I’ve learned that in order to be truly productive and successful, it pays to be strategic in the way you approach your to-do list. Effectively, there are seven principles that I believe smart business owners live by each day:
1. Introduce forced deadlines
Introducing mini-deadlines throughout your day to keep you on track with your tasks. These forced deadlines, such as picking up the kids, an appointment or meeting - something that you simply must do – will give you a time limit. You’ll know that you have to complete a task or tasks by this time.
2. Utilise non-productive time
If you’re running your own business, use the time when your arms and legs are busy but your mind is free to get stuff done. For instance, instead of listening to music while driving, take this opportunity to call five people in your life, perhaps your clients, or listen to a podcast and learn something while you drive.
3. Focus on what you do best
We’re always fastest and most efficient at the things we do well, so consider hiring a professional to do the tasks you find most difficult - someone who does these things for a living. It may cost you a little bit of money but, as a business owner, you’ll find your time is far more valuable.
4. Hire a virtual assistant
As per above, if you’re working in your business alone, without any help, then you’re going to find it tough going. Virtual assistants can be hired from anywhere in the world and can cost as little as $6 per hour.
5. Pay for expert advice
Just as you may pay someone for the right kind of help, it’s also a great idea to pay for the right kind of advice. If you’re running your own business, you will often need to have a mentor or a coach; someone to help you along the way. Spending a few hundred dollars for one hour of time with the right expert, can actually create an incredible return on investment.
6. Write your to-do list the night before
This habit is really simple and really effective. Instead of starting the day trying to sort out your schedule – and getting distracted – grab a pen each night before bed, and write your to-do list for the following day. This will help you hit the ground running.
7. Do an hour’s work before you check your email
Often times, email is the first thing we look at when we turn on our computer. However, by doing so, we instantly introduce another 20-30 tasks into our day. Sometimes just actioning and replying to emails can take half a day, and we go to bed feeling like we haven’t achieved anything.
So, when you wake up in the morning, resist the urge to check your email straight away. Start your to-do list and, if in an hour’s time you decide to check what’s in your inbox, at least you would have already started – or even achieved – one major task.
This article was written by Dale Beaumont for Women's Health. Dale is an Award-Winning Technology Entrepreneur, International Speaker and Author of 16 best-selling books.