Business owners and entrepreneurs are notorious for working long, hard hours to grow their companies. But what if you could accomplish more, in less time? In many cases, an excessively long and tyrannical “to-do” list is only part of the problem. The other part may simply be you and the patterns you’ve established over time.
Bad working habits may be sabotaging your best efforts, says Andy Core, an award-winning expert and lecturer on human performance. By simply making small changes in how you operate, you can not only nail your to-dos, but free up time to accomplish bigger goals for running and growing your business.
If you are like most business owners, work habits learned over a lifetime may be holding you back. Routines that you think are helping you succeed may in fact be hurting you. Things may simply work differently today than they did, say, five or 10 years ago.
Core, who wrote a book called “Change Your Day, Not Your Life” suggests these six strategies:
Get your biggest things done before 9 a.m. As your morning goes, so goes your day. If you start slow, you will likely end slow as well. If you start your day with positive, productive actions and ideas, you’ll gain momentum that will carry through. What you do first matters. If you get up early, exercise and aim to accomplish big things before others even arrive, your personal productivity will skyrocket.
Own up to your “junk hours.” Junk hours, like junk food, provide short-term pleasure but cause long-term pain. Junk time can include such things as checking email in order to avoid other tasks, chasing rabbit trails on the Internet, or attending unnecessary meetings. “You need to identify when you’re merely going through the motions of work, versus when real work is [getting] done,” said Core. Everyone has junk hours. The object is to exchange some of those low-value activities for ones that are of greater value to you and your business.
Make a big-box checklist. Of course you have a to-do list. But does it help you identify what’s really important to do, rather than what’s simply urgent? Try this: As you draw up your to-do list, make a box by each task – the bigger the box, the more important the task. Then focus on doing your “big box” tasks first. This will keep you from being distracted by each shiny object (task) that wanders by and focus more on what really matters. Your day is successful if most of the big boxes are checked off at the end.