Entrepreneurs have many demands on their time. It is exciting to be at the center of action, birthing and driving things, but it can also take a toll on your physical and mental health if you do not watch out.
As the owner of a few small businesses I have had many days when I’ve come back home utterly exhausted and drained, and hit the sack immediately, dinner be damned. (I’d rather skip dinner than cut down on my sleep.)
In this post I’ll be discussing certain tactics that will help you get the important work done without running yourself you into the ground. They work for me and I hope you can make them work for you, too.
Organization as your foundation
I’m highly organized about all the important things in my life. I plan like a calendar and work like a clock. My wardrobe is color-coordinated and my desk clutter free. If you were to walk into my house or my office, you’d accuse me of being a neat freak.
But you couldn’t be further from the truth.
I’m actually quite a lazy person, which is why I have come up with ideas to arrange my life so that it involves minimal input from me and runs efficiently on the back of clever organization.
When I was younger and single my house was always a mess, as was my computer table. I’m not naturally tidy and neither did I have any incentives to be so.
But as I took on more work, I realized that the ten minutes I spent each morning looking for this and that amid all the clutter was actually a waste of time. Over time these minutes add up. To save those lost minutes, I decided to keep all my important items somewhere they were easy to retrieve form.
And now, I’m a planner. I plan as much as I can, while leaving out some time to accommodate unplanned things.
I plan my meals for the week on Sunday, and shop for the groceries accordingly (yes, I do my own shopping). I know what I’ll be wearing each day of that week. My work-outs at the gym are also planned so it saves me a lot of thinking.
Thinking is draining. Getting through the day on the force of a solid routine is not.
Sticking to routines did not come to me easily but it got easier with practice. I highly recommend harnessing the power of a good routine if you want to get through hectic days, weeks, and months without compromising on your sanity and your health.
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize
You only have a fixed amount of energy to spend each day, so spend it wisely. Make a list of the things that are the most important to you and get them out of the way first.
Whether it’s working out, meeting clients, or writing up reports, or all of them, execute your tasks in the order of importance.
Create checklists for tasks and tasks within tasks; they are life savers.
Assuming you have gone into business with a partner, divide the work between the two of you depending on how well you complement each other and take some pressure off yourself.
Make technology work for you
Can iPhone or Android apps help you in any way? If yes, make the most of them. Personally, I use them a lot and have reached that stage in my use of technology where I do not need paper at all. It saves a lot of time shuffling through things to get to the important bits.
I keep the shortcuts to all the important documents in a folder called ‘Important shortcuts’ on my desktop. All the important information about my clients, meetings, reports, my diet, and my social commitments is saved on my smartphone, for which I own four chargers – one for my home, one for my office, one for my car, and one in my travelling bag.
Train yourself to focus better
So you are penning an email to what could be a very important client? Forget about everything else in the world, about the tasks pending, or the calls that you have to return, about the lunch you have missed, about the missus giving you grief, even about the potential reply of the client herself.
Just focus on writing a good and professional email, covering all the important points, and that is that. And once you have sent it off, forget about it entirely. Move on to the next task, and once again step into that zone where focus comes effortlessly to you.
It takes practice to get to the zone, but you will get there faster than you think. You can start today by doing at least a few tasks with ruthlessly focused attention. Your focus will waver a lot, which is why you will have to be ruthless about keeping it together. Over time though, this ruthlessness will be replaced with softness as your focus becomes naturally stronger.
Scattered focus leaks a lot of energy. Plug it.
15-minute power nap
If you can afford this luxury, just tune out the world, shut down your senses, and doze off for 15 minutes in the afternoon. If you can’t sleep, drop into what is known in yoga as the ‘corpse pose’ for 15 to 20 minutes (never more than half an hour).
This nap neatly divides the day into two, and prepares you for the second half. It removes the stresses of the day accumulated up to that point. You will feel noticeably light, rejuvenated, and ready for the tasks ahead. Don’t run on caffeine. Orange juice and good sleep are much better options.
Simplify your choices
Choices are a huge drain on energy. I realize there is no way to avoid them, but I strongly recommend only giving a good thought to the really important ones.
Does it really matter to you if you are having a tuna or a salmon sandwich today?
…if your subway bread is toasted or not?
…if the curtains in your office are green or yellow?
…if you are wearing a black or a navy suit to your daughter’s school function?
If the answer is no, move on to things that deserve a higher degree of thoughtfulness from you.
Conclusion: There are plenty more energy-saving tactics for busy entrepreneurs, but I swear by the above as they have always worked for me. Give them a shot and let me know how it turns out for you.
About the Author: Andrew Cravenho is the CEO of CBAC LLC & Factor Auction. As a serial entrepreneur, Andrew focuses on helping both small and medium sized businesses take control of their cash flow. Prior to CBAC, Andrew founded an annuity financing company relieving tort victims of financial hardship.