This article is a continuation of a Medium article I published on the importance of paying more attention to the time you spend in your life: Medium.com | How Time Does Not Equal Money & Why You Should Get Rid of It
As an entrepreneur, it’s important to not only maximize the amount of time we have in our day to grow our business, but to also balance the proper recovery periods and energy flow to be the most productive during the hours we do work.
This allows us to:
- Have more time to grow your business.
- Have more time to relax and recharge with your friends and family, and
- Release the self-judgement about when we feel we weren’t productive enough.
But what’s getting in the way?
I know just as much as you, that we all have busy and hectic schedules in our lives. From constantly putting out the fires that come up, balancing a family and social life, and already making the sacrifices needed to free up more time to focus on our business.
The end result is the same: We need more time to build our business.
- Whether you’re building a side business and you need to carve out more hours after your day job.
- You’re caught up in the day-to-day operations of your business, and you need more time to build systems to scale and grow, or
- Business is going well but you’re struggling to find enough time to spend with friends and family.
Utilizing the strategies I outline in this article, I am confident that you will be able to free up 4-8 hours each week, that you can put towards doing the things that are most important to you.
1. Self-Reflect Upon How Time is Currently Spent
The first step is conscious awareness.
Take out a legal pad and write down a detailed summary of how you spend each hour in the day.
If you don’t become self-aware of how your time is currently being used, you’ll never be in the position to make adjustments in removing the things that are wasting your time as well as optimize the things you’re doing well, expand upon them; and make better use of your time from there.
As humans, we are built to work on habits and routines. One we fall into a groove of something, it’s difficult to become self-aware of our limitations, which is the first step of breaking free.
So the first step to freeing up time in your day is to keep detailed records of how you are currently using your time. I’d suggest doing this for a week (minimum) and then continue to monitor things from there to recognize consistency in your schedules
- Morning Routine: What time are you waking up?
- Everything Before Noon: What are you doing in the morning?
- Lunch Time & Breaks Throughout The Day: It’s important to rest and recharge to avoid burning out later in the day. Are your breaks too short? Or are they too long where you get carried away with things?
- Long Meetings? How long are you spending in meetings and on phone calls?
- Create a Detailed Breakdown: What exactly do you do, hour-by-hour each day?
- The Social Media Black Hole: Pay close attention to the amount of time you spend checking emails, on the phone, and logging into social media. Our cell phones are the worst killers of our time, with every major app and platform built and designed to capture our attention.
Once you begin doing writing down your day-to-day actions for long enough, you’ll begin to notice patterns of where you are wasting time, and where you may be able to add additional time in your day.
2. First Thing’s First
What is the most important thing for you to do each day?
If you did nothing else except this one thing today, what would be the one thing that moves your business forward the most?
After years of coaching business owners to improve habits, increase motivation, and understand human behavior; I learned that every habit we have is broken down in three parts:
- The Trigger Event
- The Habit, and
- The Positive Reward
Once the trigger event is unleashed, there is virtually no going back.
Just like individual habits, our days are built out on a series of habits, so for this reason – when we start the day off fresh with a positive habit, this interrupts the series of events that may lead to an unproductive day.
Personally, whenever I wake up in the morning, I immediately organize my room (because it helps declutter the mind), open my laptop, and then type out a blog article on the topic that is flowing through my mind that day.
I publish the article, schedule a YouTube video filming session on the same topic, and then promote the article throughout the internet.
Because I do this first thing in the morning, it not only sets up the positive feedback loop of productivity throughout the day.
But it also gives me that good feeling knowing that I moved forward with my business, which makes it easier to build on top of that from there.
3. Your Nightly Routine
If you waste your mental energy in the morning trying to figure out what to do, this could take up to an hour out of each day before you get on track.
A friend of mine who owns a very successful business from his own office introduced me to his nightly routine.
He has a Keurig coffee maker next to his bed. Every night, he prepares for the next day by placing his coffee cup under the Keurig and a coffee pod in the maker ready-to-go.
He also places an apple on his nightstand for breakfast.
This way, when he wakes up in the morning, he presses a button, his coffee brews as he gets ready for the day, and he eats his apple before getting to the work day.
What this does for him is that it helps him save time from making breakfast and going back and forth to the kitchen; which gets him out of his morning flow.
It also is his way of organizing his mind so he doesn’t have to think of what to do the next day, which also frees up his mental energy to focus on executing on the tasks.
4. Outsource Personal Tasks & Meal Prep
While I’m tying this for you, I’m working out of a startup accelerator house in the coastal district of Magdalena del Mar in Lima, Peru. It’s a 16-room house with individual living quarters upstairs, a kitchen, courtyard, and yoga room downstairs, and the office in the front of the building.
The company pays $200 per month per person for food and services.
- The owners of the house do the shopping for essentials (paper towels, soap, etc.).
- There is a cleaning lady that handles the chores.
- Down the road is a lady that does my laundry each week for less than $6 U.S.
In these instances, I find ways to offload personal tasks that would otherwise take important time away from my business.
- When I do cook, they are quick-and easy recipes that requires minimal prep time and cooking.
- I could spend an hour washing, drying, and folding laundry; or I can pay someone to do it for me.
While your living personal and family situation is different than mine, can you personally think of one task you might put some money into, so you can free up your time?
Do you meal prep for the week ahead to cut down on cooking?
Many meal subscription services allow you to outsource the shopping of your meals, with some options even offer pre-cooked options so you can just open-and-eat for lunch.
5. Understand Your Own Unique Working Style
In our Peak Performance, Motivation, and Emotional Balance Training Program program at Limitless Academy, one of the things we teach you is how each individual is motivated to perform and take action.
One of the behavioral filters we have is “Independent vs. Cooperative”.
While some members of the executive team of my company prefer working in cooperative environments, with conversation and a social flow, that is how they are naturally wired to behave.
I personally prefer a more independent work environment. Short meetings, and then I get to my office, plug in and execute on the task that needs to get done.
While there is a lot of emphasis and bragging rights on the number of hours we work in the day as business owners, optimizing the level of productivity during hours is just as important too.
While the program is in-depth and detailed, the number one technique I would suggest you to master in your business right now is how to properly organize tasks.
First, you want to begin with the big picture of what you’re working towards (outcome-based goal setting), then break down the task into individual elements you need to complete in order to reach that larger goal.
Once you do that, chunk things down to “The Now Step”. Once you have this one, very specific thing you need to do, chunk it back up to make sure this is a necessary step in completing your goal. Once it is, set an accountability goal to get that one very specific task done by a very specific time.
Write a $500 check to someone in your business mastermind group, hand it to them; and tell them to cash it if you don’t meet your goal.
- By chunking down the task – you prevent overwhelm.
- By chunking the task back up to your larger goal – you build the confidence and certainty that you’re on the right track.
- By writing the check, you tap into your biological motivators of moving away from immediate pain, so if you struggle with motivation sometimes, handing the check outside of your control ensures that you’ll feel the pain for not taking action.
This really helps in organizing your time and making the most productive us.
6. Time Does Not Always Equal Money | Prioritize Your Tasks
A lot of business owners spent too much time on low-priority tasks.
Doing so makes them feel a false sense of accomplishment and think they were productive, while not moving the business forward.
I once spent an entire week re-designing a landing page on my website over and over again.
I didn’t run any traffic to it to get data.
A week was wasted, when I could have simply put one up in a couple of hours, ran a few hundred clicks to the page using paid traffic, and then see how it would perform from there.
Ironically, it is also the most important tasks that are the quickest and easiest to complete. Finding a fulfillment center that allowed us to outsource all of our order fulfillment and shipping took all of three hours cold calling various distribution companies along the east coast.
What tasks have you been doing that make you feel productive? And how can you either outsource low-level tasks to employees or contractors, or re-shift your focus to completing higher-level tasks where you can push your company forward quicker with less time and energy it used to take in the past?
A lot of what I suggested here require a lot of self-awareness and personal reflection.
7. Make the Best Use of Your Time
Imagine having to run a marathon at 7 a.m. when you’re hungover and virtually sleepless from the night before.
Now, how would things turn out if you go on a first date depressed, groggy, and and completely in a mental fog on life?
In these instances, the amount of time you spend doing something is also impacted by the quality of the energy you put into something.
Now, the same holds true in business.
If you’re burnt out, overwhelmed, overworked, and completely stressed out, you’re not going to make the best use of the hours of the day you put in.
In the following video, I talk about how to get more energy in your life. At the end of the video, I also share strategies to improve your focus and concentration.
By putting these tips together, I’m confident you can increase your productivity and workflow, and be more successful as an entrepreneur.