As entrepreneurs and small business owners, there are numerous hats you wear in a week's time. It may feel as if you are stretched thin and pulled in every direction. Learning how to be efficient with your time and energy is critical and the key to a business owner's success over the long haul. Here are 10 habits you can drop today to experience more success:
#1: Not being able to say ‘No!'
It's easy to say “yes” to more opportunities, more business, more favors… all of that seems to be good and a great way to build your business and network. However, if a project, opportunity or other option threatens to drag you away from your goals and cloud your vision, it is better to say “no.” Setting boundaries that you are comfortable with and learning how to say “no graciously” is a skill worth honing. No doubt, the more successful you become, the more others will compete for your time and attention.
#2: Not letting go of those who don't want to grow
Movers and shakers are attractive. They are high energy and exciting to work with and be around. These types tend to fuel us with energy and excitement too! So it stands to reason that those we are on the opposite end of the spectrum can rob us of our creativity and zeal. Studies have shown that we tend to be most like those we spend the most time with. That being said, we should be selective with those we hang out with and who occupy our time.
#3: Not taking lunch
It's a common habit that owners fall into — skipping lunch and choosing to work instead of eating. Yes, the lunch time spent working instead of eating may put you ahead on the to-do list, but not choosing to take a break can slow down your productivity. It's important to take a few minutes to refuel and recharge during the day. You'll avoid burnout and find your mind is sharper through the afternoon.
#4: Not exercising
Exercising requires discipline. Choose to focus on discipline in the gym can lead to discipline in other aspects of your life, including business. When you exercise, you are more alert and sharp. You will operate on a higher level and find you feel more energy.
#5: Not focusing on one task at a time
Multitasking is a slippery slope. However, most business owners pride themselves on juggling a few tasks at once. But when you try to do too many things at once, your effectiveness and focus is pulled away and not one thing is getting your undivided attention. Get too many irons in the fire at once and you'll find yourself shortchanged on whatever it is you are doing.
#6: Not genuinely connecting with people
In a perfect world, everything you do would be working toward some goal (even if it is recharging on the couch). Sending emails that do not advance a relationship because you want to “ping” them or “touch base” is at best useless and could be harmful. There are definite exceptions where being on someone's mind is valuable, but try to connect it with value creation or a mutual memory.
#7: Not letting go of the need for perfection
There's an old adage that goes “Things don't have to be perfect to still be very good.” Another one great for business owners is “Done is better than perfect.” When the need for perfection steps in, we can find ourselves in a trap where nothing gets done and our sense of accomplishment drains quickly. Our mental energy is spent and we can bog down our team with the drive that everything must be perfect…a ll the while nothing is getting completed. Embrace the fact that things can change and be edited in the future. Perfection is a life-sucker to a team and you don't want to be leading a lifeless group in circles.
#8: Not taking time to recharge
If you're a workaholic, it can be easy to let your own time get taken over by work, over and over until you're not taking any time for yourself. This may seem like it's making you more efficient, but it will start quickly doing the opposite. There's no faster way to burn out. Don't fall into the habit of denying yourself the time you need to recharge.
#9: Not setting times to return calls, emails and messages
This is by far the largest problem with many people achieving success, especially on a day-to-day basis. If you answer an email or message, you should be committed to it, or it'll quickly take you away from whatever task you are completing at the moment, hindering success. Plan periods every hour or two to answer emails, messages and return calls. Doing so will ensure you are focused on the task at hand and can put your best foot forward.
#10: Not planning your day
Planning your day allows you to be proactive not reactive to what the day brings. If you'll get in the habit of sitting down and picking a few things you have to get done that day, you can manage your time effectively without finding the hours have slipped past and the work day done before the most important things have been tackled. Don't let your calendar and to-do list run your day. Get in charge and make a plan.