Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. As an entrepreneur, you have a vision and you have several tasks in hand. You are a dreamer and you want to create an innovative product or service that disrupts an extant business. However, it is often very difficult to track your tasks and schedule your daily routine without a boss. It’s a tough journey and it takes courage to think about being an entrepreneur. The newspapers and media have glamourized ‘entrepreneurship’. However, it’s a tough journey and to be successful one has to be self-motivated and self-disciplined.
“I am not a self-disciplined person”, a realization which hit me really hard amidst the COVID-19 lockdown. I had startup ideas that I wanted to execute at some point in my life and COVID-19 gave me this opportunity to start. However, maintaining the motivation to keep going was tough. Hence, I have jotted down some productivity hacks for entrepreneurs which I adopted/trying to adopt to achieve my best.
1. Use Kanban Board To Schedule Your Tasks
If you have never heard of ‘Kanban’, it’s okay. I had also never heard of it until my last semester of Master’s at Trinity College Dublin. Kanban board consists of all the tasks currently in progress, to do in the future and the tasks already done. A typical Kanban board looks as shown below.
You can use Trello, GitScrum, or Kanbanize to schedule your tasks. Trello is free to access while the other two have free access for a limited period.
2. Learn to say ‘NO’ and Implement Carlson’s Law
Prioritizing your tasks is critical to your success. Getting distracted continuously can affect your productivity. According to Swedish economist Sune Carlson, the tasks which are interrupted time and again will take longer to be accomplished. Therefore, as an entrepreneur one should focus on getting the maximum tasks done at a stretch.
Set aside your schedule for mails and social media. Don’t respond to Whats App every now and then. I know it’s really hard to ignore messages from friends and family, but it is important.
If the people are your close friends, speak to them about your schedule. Most of the time, they understand. I am lucky to have such wonderful people in my life who actually understand this.
STOP multitasking or minimize it. Yes, I can multitask, and once upon a time, I was so proud of it. However, over time, I have realized that focusing on certain things instead of multitasking simultaneously has helped to boost my productivity. If you are in dire need to do multiple tasks, ensure that these are done in longer stretches and you don’t gallop from one task to another.
According to a recent study from Stanford University, multitasking can damage lower your IQ by 15 points. Another study from the University of Sussex says that multitasking can damage your brain cells. That’s scary and I slowly mended my way.
3. Set SMART Goals
While pursuing the ‘Six Sigma‘ course, I learned about setting SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-Based. Setting SMART goals is one of the important productivity hacks for entrepreneurs.
At the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, I wanted to make the most out of my day and would often set unrealistic time for the tasks. Hence, very often I would accomplish much less than planned. Failing to accomplish a task in the due time often led me to disappointment. I was not procrastinating. However, I realized that I was not implementing the SMART task management system. My productivity increased as I started to set time-bound realistic goals.
4. Focus and use PARETO Principle
Anything that distracts you is a noise in your life and noises are mean to be eliminated. This is in sync with Pareto’s 80/20 principle. The 80/20 principle says that 80 of positive effects come from 20% of the efforts.
This is a fundamental principle in business management where 80% of the revenue is generated by 20% of the customers. Therefore, the focus of the company should be on retaining these 20% customers.
This is quite true to your daily life as nearly 20% of your time in a day helps you move towards your achievable dreams. Therefore, you should strive to achieve as much as possible during those productive hours.
During the COVID-19, my major dilemma was “How to stay focussed while working from home?” Here are some of the simple productivity hacks I implemented to boost my productivity:
- Uninstall Facebook and Instagram from my phone. Only access it via the laptop or desktop.
- I stopped opening more than 5 tabs simultaneously. Trust me, it works.
- Delay replying to WhatsApp messages of friends: We all need friends. I know this is hard, especially if this text is from your girlfriend or boyfriend. But you need to understand that ‘FOCUS’ is the key.