Ever noticed how some entrepreneurs get way more done than others without working themselves to the bone? You know…Those incredible people who have successful businesses and still manage to have a life.
I’m talking about increased productivity that isn’t the result of working ridiculously long days or multitasking to madness, either. Because it’s not how hard they work. It’s how smart they work. And if you ever want to be able to put your business growth on autopilot and have more time for things you enjoy, working smarter is critical.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit there was a time when the very thought of “working smarter” seemed totally pie-in-the-sky. I was too busy working in my business to even consider how that might work.
But it was clear there were other entrepreneurs who were better at creating more efficiency in how they completed tasks, achieved goals, arranged their day, found clients, and so on. So I devoted the past eight years to learning how to do this for myself and my clients.
The thing is…Working smarter doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Most entrepreneurs have to, well, work at it a bit. But it’s worth the extra effort up front because it lets you get more done with less effort later.
So here are some simple tips for you to get started…
1. Stop multi-tasking now.
The phone, email, Facebook, Twitter... it all competes for your time and attention so you have a huge sense of busy-ness. But don’t mistake it for true productivity. Studies now show that multitasking doesn’t increase productivity or speed up the completion time for each task—it does just the opposite. (See "Multitasking Makes You Stupid" for a great Wall Street Journal article by author Sue Shellenbarger.)
Instead, turn your phone and email off and focus for one hour straight (or if it takes less than an hour, focus until it’s done).
2. Act like you’re a franchise!
Everything in your business should be done the same way, every time. That means having set processes in writing.
Most people find the idea of sitting down and creating process documents and how-to’s for different tasks about as much fun as a trip to the orthodontist. But it needs to be done—even if you’re a solopreneur.
Otherwise you end up wasting time and your efforts lack consistency. Plus, when you’re ready to hire an employee or outsource tasks, those process docs make it a breeze to get the results you’re after.
3. Turn it down.
Be choosier about the work and clients you take on. It’s easy to say yes to any and every client or job that comes your way when you need the cash. But juggling as many as you can doesn’t inherently mean more success or revenues for your business.
In fact, it might just spread you thin, wear you out and actually make you less money since some clients are more high maintenance than others. Plus, you want to make sure your more lucrative projects or clients don’t suffer from your diluted attention and efforts.
4. Keep marketing regardless of your budget.
If you don’t market your business regularly you’re always going to struggle to find enough clients.
Thankfully there are plenty of low-cost ways to market any business.
Try putting out press releases online, participating on social networking sites and doing email marketing. Spruce up your bio. Or commit to attending live networking meetings every month. If you have something to say that potential clients might want to hear try blogging. You can create a blog for free on WordPress then add short articles, tips, audios or videos.
5. Get it off your plate!
If you’re really strapped for time, or you have tasks you just can’t stomach doing or are bad at, outsource to a Virtual Assistant (VA). This is one of my favorite solutions for getting more done with less effort—especially when it comes to online marketing!
VAs can do everything from answering email to setting up social networking profiles, building blogs, creating newsletters, sending holiday cards, and more. Some even specialize in online marketing. I hired my first VA team years ago and it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done for my business—and for getting my own life back because I’m not chained to my computer trying to figure out how to do things like build a blog.
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