If you’re an entrepreneur, maybe you’ve vowed that this year you’ll be more productive. Are you doomed to be disappointed like everyone else?
Not necessarily. According to some psychologists, if you experiment with small potential solutions to your problem, big changes are possible. You may need, in other words, some handy hacks.
The wise words my aunt shared with me more than a decade ago still resonate today and guide how I structure my daily routine and schedule: Time is your most valuable currency. It’s the one finite resource we work with daily where we can’t simply create more should we come up short in a given day. This can be especially true for entrepreneurs, who are consistently challenged to do more with fewer resources.
So, to get more out of your day and ensure you’re maximising your most valuable currency, here are five small changes to experiment with.
Research at Stanford University showed that people who are media multitaskers are less productive. Those who can juggle many tasks at once certainly appear to be productive. But, this study showed that that is an illusion. It was assumed that these people had some sort of ability — perhaps a better memory — that enabled them to accomplish what others could not. But, it turns out that they may just be more easily distracted.
Concentrate! (But only for 52 minutes).
It’s counterintuitive, but research has shown that people who take short breaks during the day are more productive. One study demonstrated that the most productive 10 percent of workers, worked on average for just 52 minutes before taking a break. And the perfect break was 17 minutes long. The idea that breaks can make you more productive is not new. Back in the 1920s, Henry Ford realised that his company could get just as much work done by limiting the work week to five days and the work day to eight hours.
Get an app for that.
If there is a task that hinders your productivity, see if there is some technology that will help you do it better. For example, if you’ve lost business because you’ve repeatedly missed customer calls, think about forwarding your office phone to your mobile device via voice-over-IP, or VOIP. It’s technology that has been around for a while and can keep you in touch with your customers no matter where you are.
If you’re a person who believes if you want it done right, do it yourself, you could be wrong. Smart entrepreneurs know what they’re good at, and they know that delegating the rest may be more efficient than doing it themselves. It may take some time to determine which responsibilities you should hand off to others, but that time could pay off by freeing you up for more productive tasks.
Eliminate some meetings.
Meetings can be an enormous waste of time, so attend only those that are absolutely necessary. Is that luncheon with the local chamber of commerce likely to generate some leads or not? If not, find a better way to drum up business. If you can’t eliminate meetings, try to make them more productive. One way is to keep them short, 30 minutes or less. Another is to create an agenda and send it out a day ahead of time.
If none of these experiments work, maybe the problem isn’t you. According to a Harvard Business Review article, some people just aren’t comfortable with techniques designed to make them more productive. They feel these techniques impose a regimentation on them that interrupts the flow of work, damages the quality of their work experience and even hampers their productivity.
So, if you’ve tried techniques to make you more productive and they haven’t worked, don’t sweat it. Just focus on other resolutions instead. Didn’t you sign up for a new gym membership?