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15 Productivity Hacks for Entrepreneurs

Time is money is time is money is time is money... A day has 24 hours. In the best-case scenario, we spend 8 hours of it sleeping. The number of hours we spend at work varies from person to person, ranging anywhere from four to 16 hours a day.


As an entrepreneur, you may tend to spend a lot of hours in the office. Therefore, working efficiently is a game-changer to maximize productivity, reduce the number of hours spent in the office, have less stress as a result and achieve a better work life balance.


productivity hacks for entrepreneurs

I, too, have learned in the last 12 years of entrepreneurship that it is not always easy to implement maximum productivity in order to master a good work life balance. It requires tremendous discipline - in many ways. But there were a few things that really helped me. In this blog article, I would like to introduce you to the 15 hacks for more productivity and efficiency that I use myself in my business and can warmly recommend to every entrepreneur.



1. FIND OUT THE STATUS QUO


First of all, you have to know the status quo. How much time do you spend on what kind of tasks? How many minutes a day do you spend on email, learning, distractions, actual paid client work, and so on. No matter how you go about it, if you want to increase your productivity, you first need to know exactly what you're spending your time on, down to the minute.


I record my time twice a year for four weeks at a time. On a large notepad on my desk, I write down exactly (not estimated!) how many minutes I need for which activity.


Here it is particularly important to be relentlessly honest with yourself. Meaning: If I lose myself on a news website and scroll through it for a long time, read and jump from link to link, these minutes are also precisely documented. As I said, the first step is only to get the status quo.



2. ANALYZE THE STATUS QUO


Once you have meticulously recorded the status quo for four weeks, the evaluation begins. It is best to categorize individual activities. To give you an example: social media for the business, private social media, emails, meetings, paid client work, personal organization, education, strategy, and so on. Add up the minutes for all categories and take a deep breath.


Yes, you will be (very!) surprised and maybe shocked. That aha moment is normal and important. The good thing though: Now you really know what's going on and can act accordingly.


productivity hacks for entrepreneurs

What is possible to delegate? What can be automated? What brings money into the business and what doesn't (one of the most important considerations of all)? Certainty and clear facts are the best starting point for increasing your productivity.


Record your time at regular intervals and compare your results. This way you know what works well and where there might still be room for improvement.



3. DELEGATE YES, BUT CONSIDER A FEW THINGS


Depending on how the analysis of your time recording looks like, it can mean that you should look for professionals (regardless of whether they are freelancers or employees) who can do certain things better and faster than you. For example, we offer an all-round carefree service for our website clients to help them increase their productivity.


Of course, delegating activities only makes sense if it pays off in terms of time and money. And don't forget, delegating tasks also means that the organization of delegating has to be taken into account here. For example, if you have to invest two hours a week to save ten hours a week, it makes a lot of sense. However, if the extra organization or administration that delegating entails is two hours a week and it only saves you two or three hours a week, then it doesn't make sense.



4. FOCUS VS. MULTITASKING

Focus is always better than multitasking. Always without exception! Doing one task after the other with your full attention and focus is much faster and more effective than doing several tasks in parallel at the same time.


Scientists explain that being distracted from one activity (regardless of how long the distraction lasts!) and focusing on another decreases brain performance by 20 to 40% when tasks are done in parallel rather than sequentially.


focus vs. multitasking

Say goodbye to multitasking, it robs you of focus on what really matters. Give it a try, you'll be amazed how many hours a week you can save by focusing instead of multitasking.



5. FIRST THINGS FIRST

Do the most important task of the day first - before (!) you open your emails, chat messages or social media. What is an important task? One that pays your rent and your food. For several hours at a time, focus on that one project that matters and drives revenue.


Some also call this deep work sessions. I personally like this expression very much. Deep work with maximum mental focus above everything else - that's what it's all about. Such a start to the day will save you several hours at the end of the day.



6. SPONTANITY KILLS EFFICIENCY

Schedule things - in your job and your private life. I keep hearing "spontaneous is best". This may be true when you have so much free time that you don't know what to do with it. But you don't get things done that way - quite the opposite is the case. Most spontaneous things don't happen in the first place because "it doesn't work out spontaneously".


I always have to smile when I hear "I'll do that spontaneously". Firstly, this is just an excuse for "I don't want to commit to it". Secondly, it means "it doesn't matter enough to me (otherwise I would commit myself to it)". Thirdly, the probability that something will take place is minimal. And that's exactly how it is in practice - it usually doesn't happen at all.


"You never have time - unless you take it."

What often leads to frustration in private life, leads to less efficiency in professional life and ultimately to less sales. Schedule things! You probably know from your own experience how pointless it is to say to yourself, "I'll do that when I have time." Those are the things that remain undone. That's why it's essential to schedule everything - from paid work for clients to internal organization to strategy work for your own business.


At this point it is also important to mention that sufficient buffer times must be scheduled in. Otherwise it is impossible to keep to the schedule and actually implement it in daily practice. My rough rule of thumb: Depending on the activity, 20 to 40% buffer time should be added to tasks.



7. GREAT TOOLS

I myself underestimated smart tools for far too long and made life unnecessarily difficult for myself. Be smarter than me and use digital tools wherever you can! You will see that it makes a huge difference in your daily work. Cheers to digitization!


Here is a glimpse of the tools we currently use internally (as of June 2022):

  • Trello including automations

  • Billomat

  • Loom (our customers are loving our screen recordings)

  • don't disturb mode on the phone in combination with a secretary office, that is always available during normal office hours (Of course, here you need real people.)

  • Calendly incl. Zoom integration (our customers are happy that it is so easy to make an appointment with us)

  • Dropbox incl. Smart Sync

  • scheduled blogging in the Wix dashboard

  • Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries

  • mobile dictation functions


smart digital tools for working more efficiently


8. SAME THINGS AT THE SAME TIME

Working efficiently also means blocking similar activities and completing them in one go. This makes sure, you are mentally in the right mode and can work more efficiently and get everything done much faster. In addition to spending less time, you also achieve better quality results because you are more focused.


Here is an example:


Option 1 (11 hours):

  • Emails - 30 min

  • Social media - 15 min

  • Calculate offer 1 - 45 min

  • Emails - 15 min

  • Internal organization - 15 min

  • Write blog article 1 - 2 hours

  • Paid client work - 1 hour

  • Emails - 15 min

  • Online meeting with client - 1 hour

  • Calculate offer 2 - 30 min

  • Finalize blog article 1 - 1 hour

  • Phone call with employee - 15 min

  • Internal organization - 15 min

  • Emails - 15 min

  • Social media - 15 min

  • Write blog article 2 - 2 hours

  • Emails - 15 min


Option 2 (7 hours 45 minutes):

  • Paid client work - 1 hour

  • Calculate offer 1 - 45 min

  • Calculate offer 2 - 15 min

  • Internal organization - 15 min

  • Online meeting with client - 1 hour

  • Emails - 30 min

  • Phone call with employee - 15 min

  • Write blog articles 1 + 2 - 3 hours

  • Social media - 30 min

  • Emails - 15 min


As you can see, option 2 gets you the same results - in less time. You can also see that in option 2 emails were only checked twice a day. Time saving in this example: 3 hours 15 minutes in just one day. That's 16 hours and 15 minutes saved per week! So you save yourself two full working days a week.



9. GOODBYE TO NOTIFICATIONS!

Distractions from mobile phones, social media and various chat services make us believe that it is good to always be online and follow the latest trends, news or postings. What a productivity killer!


Deliberately turn off all notifications on all your devices. The addictive factor of constantly being online should not be underestimated and robs valuable concentration and valuable time; actually 23 minutes per interruption (!) - see point 14 further down in this blog article.


You pay for being online all the time with important focus and valuable lifetime, but you don't get anything useful in return. A really bad deal.


mobile working


10. MAILBOX FENG SHUI

It makes sense to unsubscribe from all newsletters that you delete more than you read. Of course, this applies to both online and offline newsletters. There is something liberating about cleaning out newsletters. Opt out of ads you don't really need. If you click delete more often than read, then you know what to do with it - throw it in the bin!



11. EMAIL VS. CHAT

As already mentioned in point 8 above, it makes sense to block similar tasks. The same is true of communication. Even if there is a trend towards communicating via chat (e.g. WhatsApp), this is usually inefficient and problematic. Chat can't compete with good old email when it comes to productivity.


Do you want to be "trendy" or do you want to be efficient? As an entrepreneur, the answer is obvious.

It's a fact: the quality of communication is deteriorating more and more. This runs parallel to the increasing quantity of communication. There have never been so many ways to communicate with each other. And never before has there been so much miscommunication, misunderstandings and communication problems. Notice anything?


Communication via chat is split up into many small chunks, often lined up incoherently and it often lacks logical connections. Many topics are started and touched upon, but not finished. Clear communication with final conclusions? Nope.


Chats are often the cause of misunderstandings, misinterpretations and missing results from the conversation. In addition, things often get lost between chat message lines. You don't have all these problems in email communication (if you communicate correctly).


Do you want to be trendy or do you want to be efficient? As an entrepreneur, the answer is obvious.



12. MEETINGS YES, BUT THE RIGHT WAY!

Meetings are probably one of the biggest productivity killers of all. They usually eat up more time than they get things going and tie up too many human (and thus also financial) resources.


Block fixed times for meetings in advance. Spontaneous meetings are taboo! Also, be sure to stay away from meetings without a fixed topic and time agenda.


yes to meetings - but in the right way


13. CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS

As far as problem-solving ability is concerned, humanity is divided into two types: those who fight symptoms, and those who fight causes.


Even if it is initially more work (and often uncomfortable) to get to the root of a problem and to solve the cause of the problem; You will save yourself a lot of valuable time (and nerves) in the middle and long run if you fight the causes instead of fighting the symptoms!




14. "DO YOU HAVE A MINUTE?"

Question: Are you an entrepreneur or the hospital emergency department?


Honestly: How many urgent things in your everyday work are not urgent or important for your company, but merely urgent for other people who don't take their self-organization so seriously.


Is it your job to iron out other people's lack of organization? No. I admit, the truth sounds harsh sometimes. But it is crucial to see things clearly for what they are - and act accordingly. Reconsider your personal availability!


availability as an entrepreneur

The don't disturb mode on the phone can help here, for example. And redirecting it to an external secretary, your business can is still available.


According to a study by the University of California, Irvine (conducted by Gloria Mark), every interruption costs 23 minutes (!) to then be able to concentrate again on the activity you were doing before the interruption. No matter how long the interruption lasts!


"Interruptions cost a company 31 hours a week."

Efficiency expert Edward G. Brown explains this using an example from the financial industry. As he reports in an interview with the Washington Post, interruptions cost a company 31 hours a week. That's almost a full-time employee.



15. YES TO "NO"

Saying yes to the wrong things means saying no to the right things. Read that again.


"Saying yes to the wrong things means saying no to the right things."

Think about what you want and where you want to be as an entrepreneur in the future. Say yes to the right things by saying no to the wrong things.


productivity hacks for entrepreneurs


WHY WE DON'T CHARGE BY TIME

Some designers charge by the time they spend on a project - especially freelancers and one-man businesses. We generally calculate with flat rates, which are calculated depending on the service and the desired output for the client. Only in exceptional cases, or if the clients explicitly requests it, do we charge by the hour.


The thing is: In the end, what counts is what the client gets from us - be it a first-class brand design from the logo to the website, an infographic, a brochure or an app magazine, for example. Logically, how we achieve the desired result is irrelevant to the client and is up to us.


When you go to the Porsche dealer and buy a Porsche, you pay for the value of the car, which is a mix of quality and brand image, not how many hours it took to produce that car, right?


Besides that, clients don't have enough insight and therefore often no understanding that the development of a first-class logo design takes well over 20 hours in most cases.



CONCLUSION

I admit, it is quite a mental effort to leave your own comfort zone to enter new organizational spheres. But you will see: Your life and your business as well as the qualitative output of your work will improve significantly. Your clients will also thank you in the end. And you will have more quality time for your private life.


If this blog article has inspired you, you can also book a Pick my Brain session with me.


brand designer

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