Taking action is one of the number one things I see holding back entrepreneurs. And why do people hesitate on taking action? Well its simple: Fear. That 4 letter word can leave you feeling paralysed and, quite frankly, if you let it overcome you, it can stop you right in your tracks. Ideas are easy to talk about, it is easy to “fake” the success of your business, but nothing holds more importance than taking action.

1. Get yourself a good planner. Whether this is an app or a book, you’ll need a planner that will allow you to plan out your time by the hour, each day of the week. Make sure it’s easy to read and easy to use, otherwise you’ll likely not make use of it.

Studies have shown that physically writing things down (i.e. with pen and paper) will make you more likely to do them. For this reason, you may be best off using a physical planner to plan your time out.

2. Avoid to-do lists. So you have a long list of things to do, but when will you actually do them? To-do lists are not as effective as scheduling out your tasks. When you schedule your tasks, you make the time to get them done.

When you have specific time blocks in which to work (many day planners literally contain hourly time blocks), you’ll also find that you’re less likely to procrastinate, as you only have an allotted time in which to get your work done before you must move on to the next scheduled task.

3.Learn how to time block. Blocking out your time helps you get a more realistic idea of how much time you actually have in a day. Start with your highest-priority tasks and work backwards.

  • Do this for your whole week. Having a broader view of how your days will add up will help you refine your schedule to be as productive as possible.
  • Some experts even suggest having at least a general idea of what your whole month will look like.
  • Some people recommend starting at the end of your day and working backwards — so if you’re done work/homework at 5 p.m., plan backwards from there, to when your day starts, for example, at 7 a.m.

4. Schedule time for leisure and breaks. Studies have shown that scheduling even your free time can help increase your satisfaction with life. It has also been proven that long work hours (50+ hours a week) in fact make you less productive.

  • Sleep deprivation will kill your productivity. Make sure that you sleep at least 7 hours each night if you’re an adult, or 8.5 hours a night if you’re a teenager.
  • Studies show that scheduling small, “strategic renewals” (i.e. workouts, brief naps, meditation, stretching) into your day will boost your productivity and overall health.

5. Set aside time to plan your week out. Many experts suggest scheduling time right at the start of your week to sit down and plan your week. Figure out how you can best use each day to work toward achieving your goals.

  • Account for any work or social obligations you have; if you find your schedule is tight, you may need to drop some of your lower-priority plans.
  • This doesn’t mean dropping social activities. It’s important to keep up with your good friends and to nurture your close relationships. You need a support network.

6. Know what a sample scheduled day looks like. To return to the thesis-writing example, a regular day might look something like this:

  • 7 a.m.: Wake up
  • 7:15 a.m.: Exercise
  • 8:30 a.m.: Shower and dress
  • 9:15 a.m.: Make and eat breakfast
  • 10 a.m.: Work on Thesis – writing (plus 15 minutes of small breaks)
  • 12:15 p.m.: Lunch
  • 1:15 p.m.: Emails
  • 2 p.m.: Research and response to research (including 20 to 30 minutes of breaks/snacks)
  • 5 p.m.: Wrap up, check emails, set primary goals for tomorrow
  • 5:45 p.m.: Leave desk, go grocery shopping
  • 7:00 p.m.: Make dinner, eat
  • 9:00 p.m.: Relax — play music
  • 10:00 p.m.: Prepare for bed, read in bed (30 minutes), sleep

7. Know that every day does not have to look the same. You can split up tasks into only 1 or 2 days a week — sometimes it’s even helpful to break up tasks as you can return to them with a fresh perspective.

  • Example: Maybe you only write and do research Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and on Thursdays you substitute writing with learning a new skill or hobby.

8. Schedule for problems. Build a little bit of extra time into every block that will account for a slow work day or an unanticipated interruption. A good rule of thumb is to give yourself double the time you expect a task to take — particularly when you’re just starting out.

  • As you become more comfortable with your tasks, or if you already have a good sense of how long something will take, you can shave your time down, but it’s always a good idea to leave in at least a small buffer.

9. Be flexible and gentle with yourself. Especially as you’re starting out, be prepared to tweak your schedule as you go. It’s part of the learning process. You may find it helpful to block your time out in pencil.

  • You may also find it helpful to spend a week or two recording what you do each day into a planner as you go. This will help you get a sense of how you spend your time and how much time each task takes.

10. Disconnect. Set times in your day where you’ll check your emails or social media. Be strict with yourself, as it’s possible to lose hours just checking in every few minutes here and there.

  • This includes turning off your phone, if possible — at least for periods where you really want to focus on work.

11. Do less. This relates to disconnecting. Figure out the most important things in your day — the ones that will help you achieve your goals, and focus on those. De-prioritize the less important things that fragment your day: emails, mindless paperwork, etc.

  • One expert recommends not checking your emails for at least the first one or two hours of your day; this way, you can focus on your important tasks without getting distracted by the things that those emails may contain.
  • If you know you have a lot of small tasks to do (for example, email, paperwork, tidying up your workspace), group them together into a chunk of time in your schedule rather than allowing them to fragment your day or break the flow of other more important tasks that might require more concentration.

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