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Work less, do more: The entrepreneur’s quest for increased productivity

“Productivity is not just about doing more. It is about creating more impact with less work.” So says Tim Ferriss, an entrepreneur and best-selling writer on productivity.
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Achieving increased productivity – how can entrepreneurs get there?

It’s one of the hardest things for business owners to balance – you need to put in hard work and long hours to succeed, but you also need to be productive. If you’re not, you’re just working. A lot. And that’s not good for your health or for your business.

So, how do you make sure your time is spent concentrating on the things that add real value and increased productivity to your business? We spoke to some of the business owners and entrepreneurs we work with to see what they thought and gathered their comments together for Real Business readers.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Entrepreneurs shouldn’t be spending their time on everyday tasks. They need to focus on strategy, product development, markets and customers for increased productivity. The wheels that keep the business turning can be managed by others, and they should be.

Business owners who are spending hours a day on invoicing, social media and database management, for example, aren’t using their skills to their advantage.

Be ready to change your mindset

Spending all day on the phone and not getting anywhere? Struggling to manage your diary? Get creative and look for ways to do things better, rather than just spend longer doing them.

Schedule a definite period for calls, and then move on to something else. Spend two days in the city and arrange a raft of meetings rather than going backwards and forwards every day. Put an hour in your diary twice a day for answering emails and then turn off your account and concentrate on the more important stuff.

Know when you’re most productive

Some people are best early in the morning and others late at night. Unless you’re a natural at burning the candle at both ends, it’s difficult to do both and stay focused. Understanding when you are at your most productive will help you plan your day more effectively and lead to increased productivity, and you’ll inevitably get more done than if you try to keep “traditional” office hours.

Drive your own culture

When you start a business, it’s easy to think you have to fall in with the crowd, work 20-hour days and sacrifice everything else. Does it have to be that way? Absolutely not.

Entrepreneurs who set their own priorities and working culture not only achieve more; they are happier for it, and when they start to employ people, they surround themselves with similarly well-balanced, happy and productive people.

Focus on your strengths

This is the important one. Don’t try and do everything yourself. Don’t expect to be brilliant at everything. Instead, know what your strengths are and use them to your advantage. For increased productivity, find talented people who can do the things you can’t – you’ll make faster progress and you’ll be far happier with your working life.

Limit distractions

We all know that once we get down to a piece of work, we can get it done. What stops us is the distraction around us – people asking questions, emails popping into the inbox, the phone pinging every 30 seconds and our own minds reminding us of all the things that need to be done.

Switch off. Close the door. Shut off the technology. Focus on getting the most important tasks done. Then you’ll have the head space to clear forms, respond to enquiries and arrange meetings. And you’ll feel far more in control and much more increased productivity.

Sara Colligan is owner of the virtual assistant company Oneresource

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Real Business

As the champion of UK enterprise for 20 years, Real Business is the most-read SME website dedicated to high-growth businesses and entrepreneurs. Through daily news, unique insight and invaluable guides we are an essential resource for thriving businesses.

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