As an entrepreneur, you have likely set goals for where you want to be in the near future as well as mid and long-term goals. However, regardless of how much thought you have put into goal setting, your typical daily routine is most likely keeping you from achieving those goals.
Author and entrepreneur James Clear suggests, “Not all uses of time are equal, and this simple truth can make a big difference in life. People who spend their time doing more profitable work make more money. People who spend their time investing in others build better relationships. People who spend their time creating a flexible career enjoy more freedom. People who spend their time working on high-impact projects contribute more to society.”
I’ve seen many entrepreneurs (myself included) fall into unproductive habits that become time-wasting traps. This is why every entrepreneur needs to identify the habits that make them unproductive on a daily basis and eliminate them.
In this article, we’ll look at 7 habits that contribute to low productivity. These habits could be keeping you from reaching the goals you have set for yourself.
1. Always checking email
This is likely one of the biggest habits entrepreneurs have that derail their productivity. When you check your email too often, you’ll start to answer emails that aren’t important and could likely wait until a later time for your response.
Make sure your email notifications are off during key productivity hours. Set aside a scheduled time to check emails and reply so you don’t get distracted from high value work.
2. Social media time wasting
When it comes to social media, we’ve all been sucked into the pit of checking our favorite social media platforms way too often. When we start replying to comments and scrolling through our feeds we can easily let 30 minutes slip by and now we are behind schedule. Social media bad habits need to be broken if we want to achieve our goals.
Just like email, we need to turn off notifications and set aside time for social media to cut out wasted time. If you’re addicted to social media, I suggest that you set aside 15 minutes every 3 hours and use it as a reward system for work done.
3. Constantly checking your phone
“A July 2015 Gallup poll of 15,747 adult smartphone users found that half check their phone a few times an hour (41%) or every few minutes (11%). When they examined 18- to 29-year-old smartphone owners, those figures increased to 51% checking a few times an hour and 22% checking every few minutes.”
If your phone is near while you work there’s a huge temptation to pick it up and check it. When you feel frustrated with a project or perhaps a little bored it’s easy to pick up your phone to check messages and notifications.
This can make you extremely unproductive as you mindlessly check your phone several times a day.
The solution? Simply put your phone in airplane mode and/or hide it in a drawer so it’s out of sight and out of mind.
4. Not creating a detailed list of daily tasks
Create a list of things that you want to achieve for that day. Try to put five things on your list and prioritize it. This will help you complete tasks that actually matter.
Your brain functions best at the start of your day. “Science suggests that the best time for our natural peak productivity is late morning.” This is why it’s generally a good idea to focus on big important projects first.
5. Master the art of time blocking
Time blocking is a thing – and it can do wonders for your productivity. “At its core, time blocking is just scheduling your to-do list against your calendar, Coleman Collins, author of The Road Warrior explains. “You block off the time you’ll be working on a specific thing ahead of time, and then during that time, you work on the thing.”
Take your detailed and prioritized task list and set blocks of time that are dedicated to task completion. Use a productivity app like Trello or write down your time blocks in a daily planner.
7 am – 7:30 am: Check Email (reply to all)
7:30- 9 am: Finish client reports
9 – 9:15 am: Grab coffee / Post on social media
9:15 – 10:45 am: Create a clients content strategy
10:45 – 11 am: Grab a snack / check Emails (reply to necessary ones)
11 – 12:30 pm: Edit article drafts
12:30 – 1:30 pm: Lunch / Active exercises
1:30 – 3pm: Call clients to discuss strategy ideas
3 – 3:15pm – Grab a coffee / check emails
3:15 – 4:45pm – Edit Proposals
4:45 – 5:30pm – Set up my schedule for the following day
I try to set my time blocks for 1.5 hours and include a 15-minute break in between each time block. Find out what works well for you and then implement this strategy. Highly productive entrepreneurs like Elon Musk utilize make this a habit it so it must be useful, right?
6. A lack of focus
A lack of focus is a common problem for many entrepreneurs. When you lack focus you will find that you are always busy but never productive. Learn how to be mindful about the tasks in front of you. We have to be present so we can become more productive and do more in less time.
7. Underestimating the value of breaks
Just as important as it is to leverage time blocking, it’s also equally important to set aside time for breaks. If not, your mind will feel like it’s on 24/7 and there’s a high chance that you’ll start encountering higher levels of stress and eventually burn out.
Your breaks should consist of activities that get your mind off your work. So when resume work your mind will feel refreshed and ready to keep going.
Here are some activities that may help refresh your mind:
Listen to music
Read a chapter of your favorite book
Take a brisk walk
Turn on your favorite podcast
Meditate for a few minutes to regain focus
Everyone has different things that will help take their mind off work, but be sure to make consistent breaks a daily habit. As you get used to these routines you may learn how to be more productive with fewer breaks.
Caleb Burley is the Co-Founder of Artiiseo, a digital marketing firm in Winnipeg Canada. He’s an avid reader of anything marketing and loves to share his knowledge of successful marketing strategies with business owners through writing.