3 Productivity Pitfalls For Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs are extraordinarily busy and productive people – or they should be.
Business success certainly doesn’t happen by itself, and it can take a lot of hard graft to get to where you need to be. However, we sometimes find it easier said than done to knuckle down and get on with things.
If the work is piling up and you’re not making as much progress as you should be, it’s time to troubleshoot your approach. Today, we’re going to look at three common productivity obstacles, and some good ways to combat them.
Taking on too much
When you’re feeling energised, it can be very tempting to give yourself a million projects and believe that you can do anything – but weeks later, when you’re feeling exhausted, it’s very common to feel as though you have too much on your plate.
Sometimes, this can be because you said ‘yes’ to too many things. Learning when and how to say ‘no’ to things that can’t be done (or at least done well) is a powerful skill that all business owners must learn.
One way of combating this pitfall is to make a habit of overestimating how long each prospected task is likely to take. If you’re deciding whether to take on a task likely to consume three days, ask yourself if you can afford to dedicate four to it.
Self discipline is important, but it’s also important to be realistic. Don’t imagine that you will be able to work with maximum intensity 100% of the time – give yourself some wiggle room and acknowledge that tiredness and burnout are real issues.
Often, when the tasks start piling up, the first thing that gets pushed to the back burner is your own health or wellbeing – we’ve all seen it happen.
You can get away with this in the short term, but in the long run the quality of your work will suffer, you’ll slow down, and you’ll burn yourself out.
Important aspects of good self-care could include:
- Getting enough sleep. Too many late nights and early mornings in a row and you won’t be operating at your best, no matter your intent.
- Eating well. It’s tempting to reach for quick snacks and energy drinks when you’ve got things to do, but sugar and caffeine will take their toll in the long run.
- Getting exercise. A lot of entrepreneurs find they have to spend a lot of time sitting at desks or looking at screens – and enough of that will start to give you distracting aches and pains, eye strain, headaches, and other impediments to productive working.
- Mental health. Never giving yourself a break or taking time to appreciate the joy of leisure time can eventually lead to burnout or resenting the work that you do.
- Natural light. Sunlight brings a lot of great health benefits, and not getting enough of it can lead to depression, vitamin deficiencies, sleep issues, and other problems.
It’s hard to do your best when you’re not physically operating at full capacity, so it’s vitally important to make sure you’re on top form. Your mind and body are your greatest business asset – so don’t neglect them.
You can’t help but be influenced by your work environment, and trying to get work done on the same couch that you also use to watch Netflix and play videogames is a recipe for distraction. Establishing a dedicated space for thinking about work matters is very useful for allowing your brain to focus.
It’s also important to work somewhere relatively quiet, or a location in which you can be assured of no interruptions. If people are constantly coming up to you to ask for this or that, it can become impossible to concentrate properly on any one thing.
Email and social media are also major time sinks. You may find it valuable to mute or disable push notifications on your phone, and some entrepreneurs swear by the practice of only answering emails during a set window every day (eg. 9am-9:30am, and anything that arrives after that simply waits for the following day).
The ability to enter a focused ‘flow state’ is key to productivity, and you won’t be able to get there with constant interruptions. You owe it to yourself to set up your environment to support and facilitate your productivity – rather than inhibiting it.
It can also be valuable to buckle down on good old self-discipline. Even in an environment with no distractions, you may find yourself daydreaming or otherwise getting nothing done. In this case, it’s time to give yourself some tough love and tell yourself that you’re not allowed to go for lunch until you’ve completed x amount of tasks, or other such self-motivated ultimatums to spur yourself into action.
At the end of the day, we all have great reservoirs of potential for business success, and those who achieve their dreams get that way by being good at bringing out their best.
By limiting distractions, maintaining good physical and mental health and keeping your task load realistic, you can supercharge your entrepreneurial activities and light a rocket under your business.