Entrepreneurs are busy people. From virtual meetings to emails to Slack messages, it can be a struggle keeping up with never-ending professional demands. And if you’re in the early stages of your business, you might feel that every minute not working is a minute not reaching your goals.
Here’s the hard truth: You are not setting yourself up for success by maintaining a busy schedule and spending every moment thinking about your business. Even the most successful entrepreneurs know that any new venture takes years, not days, to grow and requires honest reflection on what’s working and what isn’t.
Turning this “always-on” mentality around, especially at the start of a new year, may seem daunting. However, making a few tweaks now will set you on the right path to reclaiming your mismanaged time.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve tried many tips and tricks over the years to focus on the tasks, both personal and professional, that matter the most. Some worked, some didn’t. To get ahead for 2021, here are three hacks (that actually work!) that I have been implementing to take back my time.
1. Walking, Then Talking
We have all had those days completely glued to our desk and screen for eight straight hours. You probably already know that this isn’t the healthiest, and you may have even tried various ways to break up your day — from taking time for personal calls to focusing on smaller tasks that might otherwise be delegated.
While you may think this distraction will give some temporary relief, it’s not effective. You must physically separate yourself from your space to give yourself both a mental and physical break from your to-do list.
When I take these breaks, it ultimately drives my productivity by allowing my mind to wander and reset. Whether it’s a short walk around the block to embrace the sunshine or taking a few moments to play with my dog, not only do I feel energized and refreshed, but I’ve also had a chance to step back and see the bigger picture. It’s especially effective ahead of a brainstorm or meeting where all of my focus is needed to celebrate big wins or review losses.
2. Scheduling for Success
Reading emails during meetings? Catching up on the news before a major client presentation? In uncertain times, it may seem futile to try and focus your attention on just two or three things per day. However, being completely focused on a singular task or project is vital for increasing productivity.
At the start of every week, jot down your top professional and personal tasks and goals. Begin by narrowing down the most important tasks that are due or require your immediate attention first, followed by the tasks that would be nice to complete today, and lastly, those that could be delegated or can be completed another day.
Whether you’ve taken a liking to breaking up your day into hourly blocks, enjoy the Pomodoro Technique, or have learned that you work best early in the mornings, stick to the scheduling format that works for you.
3. Delegating, Delegating, and More Delegating
As a business owner, you’ve probably asked the following: “If I don’t do this now, when will it be done? By whom?”
Realistically, as long as you are working toward your goals, there will always be a task to complete, a phone call to make, or a meeting that needs attending. Of course, as your business grows, this is a good thing. The trick is to acknowledge that you can’t — and shouldn’t — do it all on your own.
While your dream team may not be built overnight, it starts with a foundation of trust. Without it, you will never really be able to let go, and micromanaging remotely will be a trait you might not be able to shake off. As a leader, it’s important to trust your team, and as a business owner, it’s important to delegate.