Staying booked and busy is the primary goal for many entrepreneurs. While large organizations have legacy systems to absorb and hide this inefficiency, startups don’t have that liberty. As an entrepreneur, you should know that being busy and being productive are two different things.
Beyond the idea, technology, team composition, and financial health, what will eventually make a difference, is how productive you are as a founder or a leader. That rarely correlates with the time you spend on a project, task, or decision. Being productive for an entrepreneur means an obsession with efficiency and output.
This is especially true when you’re starting out as an entrepreneur. Productivity is the key to staying booked and busy. Here are ten steps that you can start taking today to help you become more productive and importantly, stay productive.
Booked and Busy: 10 Tips for Staying Productive
1. Know your worth
The first step in staying productive is knowing how much an hour of your time is worth. No matter where you are in your entrepreneurship journey, you should value your time, with an upward bias. Whatever you spend an hour on should be worth it.
A phone call with a vendor? A meeting to discuss logo colors? A mail on social media posts? Ask yourself if it’s worth your time before taking it on.
2. Decide on the big tasks
Some tasks have disproportionate effects on your long-term plans. As an entrepreneur, you should start prioritizing those projects and decisions over others. That’s where you’re needed.
An effective way is to plan the important tasks a day in advance. Every evening, you should know what you’ll be occupied with the next day. Everything else should be secondary to these two or three things on your to-do list.
3. Find your peak hours
Some are at their best early in the morning while others excel in the afternoons or evenings. You should know when you’re naturally at your best and then devote that time to the important two or three tasks.
It could be an hour or two but you should routinely reserve the same time for your big tasks. You should communicate to your team that you’re not to be disturbed during this time.
4. Say no to notifications
Productivity is a function of how much you can focus on the task at hand. Several things stop you from doing that but a common culprit is notifications. Even if you don’t click on it, you lose your focus when you see a notification.
Staying booked and busy is ultimately about staying focused. If you feel yourself fighting to focus your attention, consider disabling notifications from your laptop and smartphone. No app should have the power to interrupt you.
5. Cut down on meetings
Meetings are a legacy feature from an era that didn’t have e-mail, texts, or workplace messaging apps. While they’re still useful for crucial decisions, you should question the need for meetings even if you’re not part of them.
If you were to ruthlessly analyze them, you’d realize that most meetings could have been emails or phone calls.
6. Schedule Email Breaks
While notifications are an obvious form of interruption, emails, and other messaging apps are also constantly fighting for your attention. An easy way to handle it is to devote a particular time of the day to check your emails or messages.
You should tell your team members to call you if anything’s urgent. You’ll immediately notice a reduction in the number of emails, messages, and even phone calls.
7. Take out time to learn
The entrepreneurs who succeed are the ones who studiously set aside time to learn. No matter what sector you’re in, there’ll always be something new for you to understand. It could be a series of articles, research papers, a documentary, or an interview.
It could be about the latest advancements in your category or lessons from successful entrepreneurs. What’s important is to reserve at least four to five hours every week. Remember, unless you schedule it, it won’t happen.
8. Invest in your network
One secret to staying booked and busy is being able to leverage your network during the slow times. But first, you have to have a network. So if you want to build your company faster, and bigger, start building your network. The key here is to formalize it into your schedule. For example, you should have a networking business lunch every week.
It could be with a mentor, peer, someone who works for a VC, a journalist, or a PR professional. Importantly, don’t approach networking as an opportunity to ask for favors. See it as an opportunity to help others.
9. Take meaningful breaks
Not a ten-minute break where you’re on your phone or frantically reading email threads. It should ideally be you stepping away from work. Think of breaks as vacations on microdose.
So, no phones, no e-mails.
10. Review your week
It’s one thing to implement productivity hacks but a totally different thing to review them. A weekly review will tell you whether you’re making any progress.
Have you been focusing on your important tasks? Have you been diligent about networking? What about that online course you were interested in? A review is how you realize whether you’re on the right track.
More than hacks, these are productivity habits. When you begin to implement them, you’ll be shifting from an input-centric to an output-centric model of work. That’s where you value your output and your time. It’s also where you grow both as a professional and as a person.