How you utilise your time, each day, is one of the most fundamental factors in determining how wealthy you will become, and not just in a financial sense. Wealth isn’t limited to stock portfolios and bulging bank balances – it also relates to our state of health, happiness, and personal relationships.
We are each blessed with 24 hours in a day yet we each “spend” these hours in incredibly different ways; some people feel they waste a lot of time, which is a very demotivating and depressing feeling. The trick is to work out what’s most important to you and ensure you are utilizing the majority of your time in these areas.
Productivity hacks and time management techniques can certainly assist us in making better use of our time, and whilst we all know that the formula for creating great wealth is to invest our time into building long-term assets yet we still find ourselves killing time surfing the web or watching TV. The wealthy, master the art of engaging in activities with delayed gratification rather than being consumed by the addiction of instant reward – yet this isn’t always easy.
The Stanford marshmallow experiment demonstrates the long-term earnings difference between those that are motivated by delaying their gratification in order to reap more reward in the long term; yet today with our mobile lifestyles we are increasingly wanting everything instantaneously – meaning we’re often disproportionately focused on the here and now rather than the future.
The reality is, that if you want to be chauffeured around in a stretch limousine or even, one day, riding around in the presidential plane, you need to have a few ingredients. First, you need to have a large enough dream that it becomes your driving force – a dream so compelling that you will do whatever it takes to reach it. Second, you need to have a long-term action plan that is broken down into smaller chunks of activity. The third, is that you’re going to need to develop belief and confidence in yourself, and the final ingredient, is that you’re going to need to optimise your productivity – which is the focus of this article.
There are plenty of efficiency boosting hacks to consider; here are seven of the most important productivity hacks to ensure your success.
- EAT THAT FROG
World renowned expert on productivity, Brian Tracy, encourages us to tackle the most challenging, dreaded and uncomfortable task first – on the basis that once this is out the way we feel a tremendous sense of achievement and relief that we can use to build momentum, stay focused, feel increased self-esteem, and squeeze more out of each day.
- BATCH TASKS
The majority of small business owners are used to multi-tasking, and whilst this can be a great skill, it can also hamper your productivity and effectiveness. The opposite of multi-tasking then is batch-tasking. The premise being that you can decrease distraction and increase concentration by focusing on a single task at a time. Then, when you batch tasks, meaning you group similar tasks together your effectiveness increases per tasks, meaning your efficiency sky rockets.
- USE AN APP
Whatever industry you’re in, there is an app that will help streamline your productivity as a small business owner; saving you both time and money. Popular applications like Evernote are relevant for almost any business owner or investor. That said, apps aren’t always the most productivity enhancing way to spend your time. A core principle of time management is to have a singular mental focus, and if you have notifications popping up, left right and centre – you will struggle to maintain the singular focus required to be efficient in your tasks.
- PISTOL FOCUS
As small business owners, many times, we spread ourselves out too thinly across multiple projects. This approach leads to us running around, chasing our tail, and not really finishing anything. Think of a shotgun. The shotgun shell itself is made up multiple components that spread out, meaning, there’s a strong chance some of those particles will hit the target. A pistol, on the other hand, is a single focused bullet that is being driven toward its target with absolute power.
A lot of times small business owners find themselves working in the business, acting as everything from the receptionist to the accountant to the window cleaner – rather than on the business, as the leader navigating it toward success. This means that you are essentially working incredibly long hours, for potentially little pay, leading yourself into an early grave, with no time freedom to enjoy life. You are the business owner – you need to delegate. Your job is to run the business. You are the captain of the ship and require a team (whether virtual or physical) to support you. No man is an island and nobody can expect to build an empire on their own.
- THE PARETO PRINCIPLE
The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule suggests 20% of our activities account for 80% of the outcome. In simple terms, you want to focus on what tasks are going to have the greatest impact and get these done first. Often, we can get lost in the small tasks that create a lot of “busyness” in our lives and detract from the time we need to manage our “business” – be that in a commercial or personal context.
The best way to determine what your most valuable tasks are, is to write out a list of all your tasks for the day, week, or month and then determine which tasks are going to create the greatest impact; then make sure you focused on these tasks above all else. This time management principle is at the cornerstone of almost all books on the subject and is just as applicable to busy mom’s as it is to busy executives.
- WORK WHEN YOU WORK
You should focus on working when you work and resting when your rest; meaning, if you are sitting down to work – ensure you have a singular laser like focus on the task at hand in a distraction free environment. Today, particularly when working from home, people multitask by working with their laptop on their lap whilst having the TV on in the background, or even dropping in and out of a conversation with their spouse. By fully working when you work, you can reduce the amount of time you are needing to work – and you’ll get the added benefit of being able to fully rest when you rest.