To be a productive entrepreneur, you have to be able to assess and adjust your own routines for maximum efficiency.
This may mean forgoing the typical 9 to 5 schedule, or it may involve hammering down a strict routine. In addition, you will need to still set boundaries between work and personal life and focus your time accordingly. Rather than follow someone else’s routine, “This involves a few simple steps: Analyze, Automate, and Assert.“
By following these steps, you will be able to unlock your own personal proactiveness formula. Take some time to write down your thoughts to create this process.
a. Analyze Your Current Process
Evaluate your current process, and write down your daily routine as closely as you can, including things like time wasted and unnecessary (or necessary) breaks. Observe whether you work best in the morning or at night, under strict time constraints or more freely.
You should also analyze your business versus personal spending. Keep separate accounts for business expenses. Make sure you are tracking business uses of your vehicle and look into auto insurance for independent contractors.
Even if you work from home, if you use your car for any part of your business, such as to meet with clients or visit worksites, you will want to analyze your car usage. Make sure you are keeping track of gas mileage and wear, and the factor driving time into your work schedule. See what you can do to cut back on spending and if you qualify for better insurance premiums.
You should analyze other aspects of your business or home office use that will also affect your time and money expenditure. From electricity to WiFi to time spent switching between tasks or commuting, all these aspects can and should be taken into account individually and collectively.
Use your analysis to create budgets and schedules to follow. You should create some form of a schedule even if you don’t work 9 to 5. A schedule will help you identify your peak productivity times throughout the day and figure out where you should put your time and energy in. Often, people who don’t follow strict schedules end up overworking themselves. Not working 9 to 5 can translate to “working all the time,” after all.
b. Automate Redundant Tasks When Possible
Anything that can be simplified or that takes more time out of your day than it needs to should be automated. If you excel at writing but struggle to answer and organize emails, consider automating your email responses.
Set up auto-replies, and program your inbox to reroute incoming mail and filter it to desired locations. As an entrepreneur, you have to be in charge of selling yourself. One business habit that can increase your sales is to automate one part of your process each day. At the end of a year, you’ll have a perfectly automated workflow.
Start by finding ways to streamline your social media and email marketing to the masses, and then find ways to simplify your one-on-one pitches and networking. You might try focusing on the parts of your business that give you the most trouble so you don’t have to waste energy on them. Or you could start automating the parts that are easiest to automate.
Whatever your choice is, automating your business, from billing to paying to scouting clients, will only help boost your productivity in the long run.
c. Assert Yourself and Set Boundaries
As an entrepreneur, refusing to do unnecessary work helps you control your output and focus on what’s most important. Proactively say “no” to unessential activities and decide on what your priorities are. Assertiveness can be difficult to develop, as many entrepreneurs are taught to say “yes” and grab every opportunity that comes their way. However, assertiveness is not stubbornness or cowardice. It requires confidence and focus.
To start being more assertive, you first need to develop confidence. Confidence is another positive trait that is sometimes misunderstood. People mistakenly think that being confident revolves around constant positivity, cockiness, or arrogance. Confidence is simply the mindset of being sure and certain in your goals and the steps you take to accomplish them.
You can be confident while still being flexible and willing to change. This requires you to be humble and stop comparing yourself to others. Constantly comparing your output to others is a sign of pride, not humility. Think of yourself less, and focus more on positively moving forward.
To develop confidence and assert yourself, you may need outside help. From leadership training to personal therapy and counseling, there are resources you can call on to help you develop the boundaries and sureness needed to assert yourself. Don’t put yourself down or punish yourself for failures. Love yourself and take the time to enjoy the journey. You can still focus on your goals without attacking yourself for not attaining them quite yet.
If you struggle with assertiveness, start by setting clear goals and boundaries. One easy way to do this is to create a budget for your time. Set aside the time you need to complete your goals, and specifically mark down how long you will spend on work tasks. Leave yourself time for family, personal time, and social activities.
Give yourself some wiggle room; not everything needs to be scheduled. Once you have a time budget, don’t let yourself go over it. In the same way, you wouldn’t spend money that isn’t in your budget, don’t spend the time you haven’t allotted, and don’t overdraw yourself. Be willing to say “no” to other people.
Give It Your All and Don’t Quit
Once you have started the cycle of analyzing, automating, and asserting, make sure you keep it up. Schedule yearly, quarterly, or even monthly times to re-analyze your workflow.
Automate something new each day. Make sure your boundaries and time budget are up to date so you can assert yourself and say “no” to extraneous tasks. Continue to follow these steps to refine and change your routine so you can be proactive and productive at work.