Here are 36 Ways to Stay Focused and Increase Productivity to Become a Successful Entrepreneur
For many successful entrepreneurs, time is money.
This means that every second counts. From the second you wake up in the morning to when you hit the pillow at night, you need to use every moment you get to be working towards your goals, not away from them.
You may still be fresh in the game, with gusto, grit, and motivation on board. However, it takes more than a positive attitude to become a successful entrepreneur.
Let’s take a look at some expert tips on how to stay focused and increase your productivity. Before you know it, you’ll experience success as an entrepreneur.
We live in a world that overloads us with information. The wealth of information online is overwhelming – where do you even begin?
Instead of staying up until all hours of the morning reading everything you can get your hands on, why not trying to take in this knowledge in increments?
Try only consuming content that’s directly related to the next task on your list. If it doesn’t relate, then it’s not relevant to your productivity at that moment.
Delegate and Prioritize
First up, you need to recognize what it is you prioritize in both your personal and professional life. Once you’ve done this, you need to rank these priorities in your calendar and forget about anything else that isn’t on this list.
One great way to prioritize and delegate your tasks for the day is by getting an assistant. Having someone who is organizing your priorities for you can be one of the best ways to save time and stay organized while reducing your stress levels at the same time.
Delegating the prioritizing of your time frees you up for what you need to get done.
Start – Now
When you’re just beginning down the road of being an entrepreneur, it can be easy to procrastinate. Often, we do this because we are afraid of failing, or don’t know exactly where to start.
The best way to get over this? Just start. Most entrepreneurs never really start, which means that most great business ideas fail before they’ve even been given a chance.
You need to stop waiting for the perfect time – trust me, there isn’t one. They’ll always be an excuse. Remember, you can’t finish something if you don’t even start it.
Reframe Your Thoughts
Attention management is the new time management. This means that how you manage your time is directly related to how much you’re capable of staying focused on the task at hand.
This means that if you’ve delegated time to a task but keep switching between this task and others, the end result will most likely be different than your expectations.
Instead, try to control your attention and give the current task undivided attention. The end result will exceed your expectations – plus, you’ll save time you can give to other tasks afterward.
Write it All Down
A great way to manage your tasks for the day is to write them down. You may already be familiar with keeping a diary on your phone or in a book – but sometimes this isn’t efficient enough.
Try using 3×5 notecards to write down what you intend to get done that day. On the back, you can add additional tasks that you didn’t think about when you were planning your day the night before.
At the end of the day, look at your notecard and what you got done. This will give you a great idea of how you prioritize your day, and what you can improve.
Use a Priority Management System
Focus is one of the keys to becoming a successful entrepreneur. So how do you do this on a day-to-day basis?
Like prioritizing, you can think about what your top impact activities are going to be for the day. As you go through your day, stay focused on doing these and just these – don’t let other seemingly small tasks sneak in to fill the gaps.
You’d be surprised how easy it is to let other enticing activities dictate your day. Keep your mind focused on those impact activities.
Get a Virtual Assistant
Who says that your assistant needs to be in the room with you the whole time, taking notes? The beauty of the internet these days means you can employ someone online who isn’t necessarily there with you.
They can achieve plenty of tasks their end that you would rather not be doing yourself. By outsourcing everything you shouldn’t be doing yourself, you can clear your mind and schedule of the small tasks that end up getting in the way of what you should be doing.
Try to Pace Yourself
Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out, you’ll be familiar with the rat race we live in. Keeping a business idea afloat isn’t easy – it requires a lot of hard work and high levels of productivity.
We already know that time is money. However, pacing yourself is also essential when you’re go go go all the time. If you’re going full throttle out of the gate 100 percent of the time, you’ll end up burning out, and you won’t be able to get anything done.
Know when to take time out and relax a little bit. The more rested you are, the more productive you’ll be when you’re working.
Reduce Your Mental Load
The less you have on your mind, the more clearly you’ll be able to think. When you think clearly, you can stay focused and maintain a high level of productivity.
Using a diary or an online tool is a great way to keep many parts of your business idea out of your head and on paper instead. You can reference them when you need to and stop those thoughts from swirling around unnecessarily, keeping you awake at night.
Categorizing your notes can also help you feel less weight mentally.
Take Time to Reflect
As we’ve already talked about, life as an entrepreneur is often a hundred miles an hour, if not more. You’ll continuously be either thinking about or doing the next task that you’ve prioritized. This type of lifestyle makes it hard to take time out and look in at your business idea objectively.
However, the most important thing an entrepreneur can do is stop and think. Try taking time out and asking yourself questions like am I being who I most want to be? Anything I want to do differently tomorrow?
Include Unstructured Time
This sounds like a sin, we know. However, no successful entrepreneur gets better at what they do without giving themselves time to explore, think and create.
Try implementing a couple of hours each week into your schedule for unstructured time. This time is for you, to do whatever you want to. When you’re always busy and have no reflection time, you max out your mind.
This can lead to more cognitive errors, which leads to a decline in productivity. In order to be thinking proactively about the future of your business, you need to set aside time to do so.
Disconnect From Your Computer
It wasn’t so long ago that computers were a tool for productivity. Now, they’re a tool designed mostly for distraction. While you may use your computer a lot in your business, you also need to know when to put it down and walk away.
Try to arrange your workspace in a way that doesn’t put your computer as the centerpiece. Bring it out when you need it for work, but put it away again when you don’t need it. Don’t leave it as a temptation to become sidetracked from the task at hand.
Start with the Most Important Things
How productive do you feel in the morning? Most people feel their most productive when they first wake up: it’s a new day, a clean slate, and you’ve got a renewed energy for your tasks.
This is why it’s a good idea to do the most essential things in the morning. As the day continues, we tend to slacken a bit when it comes to willpower, and the decisions we make in the afternoon aren’t as well calculated.
If you’ve got the essential stuff out of the way, you don’t have to worry too much about error.
Don’t Fix it if it Ain’t Broke
You’ve heard the saying before – if something’s not broken, why fix it?
The internet brings us many, many different business management tools – a lot of which are helpful. However, this doesn’t mean we have to continue upgrading and trying new systems to improve our productivity.
If you’ve already got a stellar system in place that’s serving you well when it comes to your time management, why change it? Everyone’s trying to cash in on management systems, which means that your tried and true system might be just as good if not better than a newer version.
Use the ABCDE Method
There are many different ways to prioritize your tasks. One of these ways is the ABCDE method.
In the A category put the tasks that you must do – otherwise, serious consequences. In the B category, place tasks that should be done that have mild implications if you skip them.
In the C category, put priorities that you could do – but no harm is done if you don’t do them. In the D Category put tasks that you delegate to others, and in the E category, tasks you never do.
Don’t do any B tasks before you’ve finished A tasks, and so on.
Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
Just like location, location, location, scheduling is everything. An entrepreneur is only as successful as their schedule.
Scheduling every hour of your work day is vital to being focused and staying productive. Like we’ve already mentioned, even free time should be planned in there somewhere.
Successful entrepreneurs accomplish their goals by breaking them down into manageable, daily tasks. If it’s going to take more than an hour for you to do that task, it hasn’t been broken down enough.
Your Calendar is Your Bible
A calendar is more than a successful entrepreneur’s best friend – it’s their bible. Therefore, you should be using your calendar religiously.
We recommend waiting an hour in the morning to check your email. This is because when you do, it’s easy to go into response mode – and before you know it, you’ve wasted half the day answering your emails.
What’s more, you haven’t done anything proactive because you’ve focused on being reactive – responding instead of doing.
Use your calendar to dictate how your day goes. Don’t rely on your memory to think of appointments – consult your calendar. It will keep you going at a productive pace.
Don’t Start to Hyperschedule
This is a bit of a contradiction – but you’ll find the middle ground. While it’s important to schedule your day from the moment you get up to the moment you go to sleep again, try to do it in blocks.
As an entrepreneur, it can be easy to get carried away with scheduling. Instead of scheduling your day minute by minute, try doing it in bigger blocks.
Let your calendar act as a guide to direct you to your to-do list. Using them together will make you more productive.
Start with Simple
You may think that getting stuck into the complicated stuff is first is better – it’s more productive, right?
Wrong. If you’re overwhelmed by a task and the enormity of it, try looking at the parts of the task you can achieve quickly. If you start with these, you’ll end up breaking the task down into manageable chunks.
You’ll also surprise yourself with what you’re capable of. Through doing the easier tasks first, you may discover that some of the more onerous aspects aren’t that complicated after all, and you’re more capable than you realized.
Try to Automate Tasks
There’s a new saying that’s been circulating for the last decade or so when it comes to being a successful entrepreneur – work smart, not harder.
The beauty of online assistance means that you can learn automated processes for certain tasks that will end up saving you a lot of time in the long run. If the task is something you’re required to do over and over again, try finding the most efficient way of doing it.
If the task is necessary to be successful and you repeat it more than three times, you’ll need to find the best process to complete it.
Say Goodbye to Less Productive Activities
Purging your life of activities that are less productive to your business can help you get your ducks in a row and allows you to be productive without necessarily being busy.
These two things can be mutually exclusive. If you’ve done a task a number of times and feel like it weighs you down more than helping you, you need to either delegate it or get rid of it altogether.
Successful entrepreneurs know when to let go of specific tasks, and when to hold on to them.
Get Up Early
How do you think other successful entrepreneurs start their day? Do you think they sleep in and have a slow start to the morning?
Successful entrepreneurs begin their day earlier than everyone else. If you read up about successful men and women in business, one thing that almost all of them have in common is that they go to bed at a good time and get up early.
If you wake up before everyone else, you have time to plan out your day before it begins. You can even get a head start on some tasks that you know might take a bit longer.
Audit Your Time
Have you been working on the same schedule for a while? How long has it been since you sat back and looked at how you were using your time?
Being aware of how you’re really using your time and checking up on this regularly is a great way to keep yourself developing and improving when it comes to being productive.
If we’re not regularly auditing how we spend our time, we can end up becoming slack and not as focused. Re-prioritizing tasks we used to see as important can help with this.
Implement the Pomodoro Technique
If you’ve never heard of the Pomodoro technique, you should have. It’s a great way to get tasks done without the distraction or pressure of other time-sensitive priorities.
It involves setting a timer for 25 minutes and sitting down to start on a task. If you’re timing yourself doing the task, you’re more likely to be focused on it as you know that it has a time limit.
This is a great way to clear space in your head and only think about one thing that needs to get done. Try to schedule the whole day like this.
Isolate Your Most Important Tasks
What are your top three priorities that you want to achieve today? This way to increase productivity is so simple it might even seem stupid. However, it’s really a clever way to get tasks done efficiently.
As you end your day, ask yourself if you got your top three tasks done. You can also ask yourself this question when you first get up, too – what three tasks are you hoping to accomplish today?
Breaking down what you need to do into three simple top tasks can help you accomplish them better.
Time Management is Mind Management
What is taking up most of your mental energy? Is it the task at hand, or is it something else?
The sooner you realize that you’re in charge of the time your given each day, the more you’ll accomplish. It can be easy sometimes to feel weighed down by things outside of our control, like certain appointment times.
Instead, map your day out the night before and decide what you’re doing to get done – appointments and all. Getting everything straight in your mind will take you one step closer to productivity.
Be Realistic About A Task
If you don’t think that you’ll be able to get a task done within an hour, you can always allow more time for it. You have to be realistic about how long a task is going to take you.
You don’t want to put yourself under unnecessary pressure. If you have a task that’s going to take an hour and a half, and you’ve only given yourself an hour, you’ll end up feeling pushed for time, and it might not end up looking as good at the end.
Use a Productivity Routine
As important as taking time out for reflection is, you also need to make sure your productivity routine is in full swing too.
Whether you apply our productivity routine to the whole day or just a portion of it, try to stick to it religiously. Just like you build a strategy for your business as a whole, you also need to develop a successful plan for your productivity.
Don’t get overwhelmed by your tasks in your productivity routine, however. Try to stick to a list of 3-5 tasks you’re going to put 100 percent productivity into over the day.
Decide, Do – and Find Out
A lot of the time, if you’re avoiding a task, it’s because you’re unsure about what happens next. If you haven’t got anything planned for when that task is completed, you’ll procrastinate the task itself.
The reason why you don’t want to do the task can usually be put into one of three categories. These are: do you need more information, do you need to make a choice, or do you need to take action?
Once you’ve worked through the resistance of these categories, you’ll be able to get on with the task at hand.
It’s Not Time Management – It’s Me Management
We get so focused on this idea of time management that, quite often we forget it’s us that needs managing. The time is going to pass whether we manage it or not – but if we’re in line and doing what we need to be doing, we’ll use it to full capacity.
Try to start looking at everything on your to-do list as a series of choices that you’re in control of. You can either choose to do them or not do them. When you don’t want to do something, delegate.
Try Doing the Hardest Thing First
We’ve talked about how helpful it is to accomplish the most straightforward task first. However, this isn’t a concrete rule – flipping it the other way can also be beneficial, too.
You’re now familiar with your levels of productivity being higher in the morning. This means that the mornings are a great time to try and tackle the most laborious task on your list.
Not only will you get the worst of it out of the way, but you’ll also be starting your day with a massive feeling of accomplishment – not the worst way to feel as a successful entrepreneur.
The Urgency – Importance Matrix
The what now? Eisenhower’s theory of the Urgency-Importance Matrix encourages you to think twice before adding a task to your to-do list.
When you’re adding a task to your list, ask yourself the tough questions. Does this task match the priority of the other tasks on my list? Is it just as important that I get this done as my existing tasks for today?
Only put tasks on your to-do list that you absolutely have to do. Otherwise, you’re just going to slow yourself down and inevitably decrease your productivity.
Follow a System
There are many different systems out there that can be beneficial when it comes to time management and productivity. Let’s take a look at one in particular that we like:
- De-Clutter Your Mind: You most likely feel stressed because of all those unfinished tasks in your head. On a piece of paper, write them all down, then cross out the ones that really don’t matter. You’ve got to be ruthless about this.
- Finish that Unfinished Task: no more ifs ands or buts. Get working on that unfinished task, and don’t stop until it’s done. The only regret you’ll have is that you didn’t get onto it sooner.
- De-Clutter Your Life: is your workplace messy? Try getting organized and knowing where everything is. This will save you precious time that you would have otherwise spent looking for things.
- Block Distraction: life tends to serve up big platters of distraction throughout the day. Keep your blinders on and make sure they aren’t getting in the way of you doing your tasks.
- Act with Purpose: continue to ask yourself throughout the day: why am I doing this? What is it I want to accomplish? Thinking like this and challenging yourself with these questions will keep you pushing forward.
Make Better Decisions
We’ve talked a bit about how good choices lead to great focus and productivity. The better you are at decision making, the faster you will grow your business.
While this may sound a bit counter-intuitive, we promise that it’s not. The best way to give yourself more time is to make better initial decisions.
You’d be amazed at how much time we spend correcting our mistakes and trying to get out of less than ideal situations. If you can think through your decision initially, you’ll end up saving yourself precious time in the long run when you don’t have to mop up any mess.
One way to improve the quality of those initial decisions is to begin the day the right way. Clear a 30-minute block of time in your morning routine and use this to think about a problem before making a decision about it.
This will help you make a more carefully calculated decision. The last thing you want is to be making decisions last minute when your brain is tired, and you don’t have much enthusiasm left.
This is why we don’t recommend making important decisions in the afternoon or evening.
Reconfigure Your Emailing System
As an entrepreneur, you might equate answering and sending emails to important work that should be prioritized. We disagree.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs only check their emails twice a day – first thing in the morning and when they go to bed at night.
You’d be amazed if you knew how much time you’re spending checking your emails each day – those small increments of time really add up. Like everything else in your day, block time out in the morning and the evening to spend time on your emails.
Shorten Your Meetings
Meetings are another part of your daily work life you might see as important.
On the contrary, most meetings don’t need to be as long as they are. If you’ve scheduled a meeting with someone and they are used to it taking an hour, why not cut it down to half an hour? If they’re aware of having less time, chances are they’ll be more concise and get to the point faster, resulting in a much more productive meeting.
There’s always downtime in meetings. Try cutting your sessions short – imagine what you could do with the extra time.
Looking at 36 Ways to Be More Productive and Stay Focused as a Successful Entrepreneur
If you want to play the game, you’ve got to be in it to win it.
Talking the talk is one thing, but you won’t get anything accomplished unless you walk the walk. Many successful entrepreneurs who have gone before you have spent countless hours figuring out the best way to use their time.
Use these tips to increase your focus and productivity levels. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish through small shifts in your perspective and day to day lifestyle.
Max started The Responsive Agency in 2014 to help business owners to navigate the fast-paced world of digital marketing. With a focus on solutions that offer high-performance growth, clients have seen dramatic increases in turnover and profit.