Running a successful business is much more difficult for poorly focused people than holding a day job. People that have a day job can often disguise the fact that that they are not pulling their own weight. Many of them don’t even realize that they aren’t being effective employees, because they have convinced themselves that working hard is the equivalent of delivering results.
As an entrepreneur, you do not have the luxury of making rosy-eyed, subjective assessments of the ROI of different tasks. At the end of the day, it does not matter how many hours you clock. All that matters is the progress you make towards building a profitable business.
Why busy entrepreneurs are often laggards
We live in a society that is obsessed with hard work. There is nothing wrong with prioritizing hard work itself. The problem is that we often place it on a higher pedestal than actually, tangible results.
This causes many entrepreneurs to lose sight of their focus during their day-to-day operations. Of course, deep down they want to succeed more than anything else. But on any given day, they want to pack themselves on the back for all of the hard work they did. They want to share a drink with their friends at the end of the week and humbly brag about their exhaustion after working 70-hour week. They may take solace in the fact that their friends congratulate them on their admirable perseverance. But they worry that their card may be declined when they pay the bill, since they have been struggling to generate a real income.
How to stop being busy and start being productive
If you have been working hard for months with little to show for it, then you may need to finally make a change.
Here are several things that you will need to do.
Take a scalpel to your to-do list
How many items are on your to-do list? If you have been spinning your wheels for months while working 60-hour weeks, you probably try to do too much each day.
Take a hard look at your list of daily tasks. You’re probably going to need to start trimming it down to things that are most important.
Identify any major distractions
You may pride yourself on your long work weeks, but you probably aren’t as focused as you would like to think. Most of us have a number of distractions that are tempting us away from our work all day long. Some of these distractions can be eliminated with the right approach, while others need to be toned down.
Obviously, one of the biggest distraction this is digital technology. You may be working hard on a project, only to find yourself on social media a few minutes later. You also are probably getting at least a dozen texts throughout the day.
Try disabling alerts and notifications on your computer and mobile devices. You may also want to use a tool like StayFocusd to limit the time you can spend on sites like Facebook or your favorite weightlifting forum. Some entrepreneurs have admitted that these simple changes gave them back an hour and a half to two hours of their time every day.
Complete quick tasks immediately instead of adding them to your to-do list
David Allen came up with the two-minute rule. This rule of thumb suggests that you should complete any tasks that can be completed within two minutes as soon as you encounter them.
“If you determine an action can be done in two minutes, you actually should do it right then because it’ll take longer to organize it and review it than it would be to actually finish it the first time you notice it,” Allen explains.
Pay attention to what does and doesn’t work
You are probably convinced that some tasks are essential to running your business. You tirelessly dedicate yourself to them. But at the end of the day, they may not pay any dividends. If you find that you aren’t seeing any results for some of the work that you do, it is probably best to find a new approach. The only way that you will truly fail is by not learning from your mistakes and doing the same thing repeatedly hoping for different results.
Focus on What You are Best At, and Outsource the Rest
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