If I had to name the number one productivity killer for most entrepreneurs, it would be the never ending ability that most people have to procrastinate. As business owners, our time is one of the, if not THE most valuable asset we have. So it’s important to make sure that we are not wasting it.
While there may not be a one size fits all solution (as everyone is different), in my experience there are certain key things that lead to massive amounts of procrastination:
Not having a dedicated office spaceI have always found that having a set desk, or area in which you can sit and do office based tasks and paperwork does wonders for productivity. It doesn’t really matter where your office space is. All that matters is that the place is used solely for working, and you are shut off from outside distractions. For me, having a dedicated place to work from means that as soon as I sit down, I’m in the zone because my mind associates that place with the type of task in hand.
Cluttered desk or workstationProcrastination often stems from distractions in your working area. Something as simple as keeping your desk tidy can have a huge impact on reducing procrastination. Clearing away everything except what you are working on minimises the chances of your attention drifting onto something else in your line of sight.
Failing to prioritise tasksIf you don’t make a firm decision on what you are going to work on and in what order, how can you expect to get things done efficiently? Write down your two or three most critical tasks in the order that you need to carry them out, then do them. Once you’re finished, repeat the process.
Checking emails too frequentlyOne that most people will be familiar with is constantly checking for new emails. Even if it only takes you a minute or so, the break in concentration away from whatever you were already working on can have a devastating effect on productivity. Try scheduling set times of the day to deal with emails, then make sure that you deal with them only during that time. Depending on how may you receive on an average day, you may want to set aside two half hour or hour long sessions (one in the morning and one in the afternoon).
Trying to multitaskSplitting your concentration between two or more tasks at once is always a huge efficiency killer. Lots of people like to think that they can multitask, but in reality, doing more than one thing at once is always going to take you more time than if you were to concentrate solely on one task after the other. Think of it like light being focused into a laser beam. Putting your all your attention into one thing is the fastest way to cut through it.
Saying yes to everythingSometimes it can be hard to say no to people or circumstances that are demanding your attention. But learning to say no is an essential part of being in business. You only have a finite amount of time in your day, and it’s down to you to decide what is important and what is not. If you allow other people to steal your most valuable resource (i.e. your time) then they will.