In my last post I shared with you some truths about the entrepreneur life—things I wish I knew when I started my business almost 14 years ago.
I shared that someone asked me recently, how I stay on top of everything in my business and balance family life. I learned the hard way that you have to set firm boundaries in how you invest your time and energy.
Being the boss of your own time can be liberating, but only if you have the right guidelines and boundaries in place.
Here’s How You Can Rule Your Time
- Be an action taking Goal-Getting-Visionary.
Don’t just dream about what you want in your business. Create a plan and work it. To be truly successful, you need to have a vision (at least 1-3 years out) of what you want your business to be break it down into actionable steps that you can track daily. I like to set goals in 3- or 4-month time frames so that they aren’t so far down the road that you get discouraged. As you work the goals and check them off the list, you’ll get closer to that long-term vision. Don’t just wing it.
- You are what you allow.
This was one of the best pieces of advice I received when I launched my business. It’s simply a great life lesson. Whatever you allow others to do and get away with—they will. When it comes to staying productive, if you allow others to play with your time, they will. A key challenge faced by entrepreneurs, especially in the early days, is the expectation by family and friends that you are now “available” since you work for yourself. They assume that your new-found time flexibility is opportunity for you to run their errands. Stand firm. Respect your time. If you don’t, they won’t.
- Get back to the top of your priority list.
I’m going to first assume that you have a prioritized task list (don’t make me wrong). Take a look at the top five most important things on that list. Highlight the ones of those top five that directly support one of your goals. Go ahead, I’m waiting. If none of the top five things are tied into one of your most important goals, then you need to get back to the top of your priority list. Being successful in this entrepreneur life means you have to become strategic about where you invest your energy. You have to build the discipline and focus to set goals that move you forward and prioritize the work related to those goals vs. other tasks.
- Someday is not a day on the calendar.
You may catch yourself saying “someday, I’ll do X….” Here’s the deal, Someday, is not a day on the calendar. Someday won’t come unless pick a Don’t just dream about doing something—schedule it. Deadlines that matter are key drivers to accomplishing your goals. Get in the habit of creating timelines and due dates for the things you’re dreaming off.
- Fire Negative Nelly.
Researchers estimate we have anywhere from 50,000-80,000 thoughts per day, with about 98% of them being a repeat of what we thought the previous day. Even worse, about 80% of our thoughts are said to be negative! We all have that voice (I call her Negative Nelly) in the back of our head that does nothing but sow self-doubt and criticism. Our negative self-talk is often meaner than anything we would say to another person. Learn to shut Negative Nelly down. I’m not saying be Pollyana with rose colored glasses (I’m too much of a realist for that). Be realistic about what you can do, but do so in a way that motivates you and builds you up. Speak and think positively about your abilities and goals. Put Negative Nelly on an extended time out!
- Let failure inspire you, not define you.
Failure is a part of entrepreneur life. If you want to hit a grand slam out of the ball park each and every time, then this is not the life for you. It will take trial and error. You will make mistakes-most of which you can recover from. You will mess up in private and in public. A great idea (or twenty) will flop terribly. But you will also have success and wins if you push through. Consider failure a learning opportunity. Thomas Edison tried 1,000 times before he successfully invented the light bulb. I love his response to a reporter’s question about how it felt to fail 1,000 times. He was quoted as saying “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Don’t let failure define you and force you to quit. Let failure inspire you to push on to success.
- It’s about what you control, not do.
If you haven’t already developed the skill, it’s time to learn how to delegate. Delegation is a multiplier. It’s a way to realize results from other people’s efforts. If you’re launching your business, it’ll be easier to do somethings on your own until you have enough capital to outsource. You’ll get to a point where either your time or skills aren’t sufficient for the work and it will make sense to outsource. Think of it as building leverage.Others who are more skilled at the work, can get it done in less time. The cost-to-value ratio makes sense when you factor in the cost of your Think about your billable rate. Would you pay someone else that amount to do administrative tasks? When you task administrative of highly skilled tasks to someone else, it frees you up to do what you do best. Build a team of trusted contractors who can do things like manage your marketing, website, bookkeeping or research. Virtual assistants, graphic designers and web designers are no brainer delegation resources. Find ones you trust and who “get” you.
- Level Up.
A mentor shared with me the importance of building my circle in a way that kept me growing. Her advice was to have: peers who are at my level; people who looked up to me; and people who I looked up to. Peers who are at my level, will give me a competition. People who look up to me, will help me realize how far I’ve grown. People I look up to will help me elevate my game.How is your circle composed? If you are the “top dog” in your circle and no one else is there to challenge you, keep you motivated or hold you accountable, it’s time to stretch your comfort zone and Level Up!
What are your go to tips for staying productive? Share them in the comments!
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