Entrepreneurs are known for busy jumping between different tasks. How can you prevent burning out from this crazy working environment while enhancing your working efficiency?
Burnout has become increasingly common in the workplace, and entrepreneurs are especially vulnerable, as they often tend to ignore the fact that they are working exceptionally long hours, taking on exceedingly heavy workloads and putting considerable pressure on themselves with each and every decision for their business endeavor. Over time, the passion that once got them going has diminished, and the job they once loved has become the source of never-ending stress that makes them both physically and mentally exhausted.
To reduce the possibility of burnout, time management has to come into play. It is not just about keeping your mind and focus on the right track, it is also about becoming more productive and achieving more at work. By consistently allowing you to accomplish more in a shorter period of time, being disciplined in managing your time will free up more time for you to focus on other things in life and reduce stress in the long term. As Jocko Willink, a New York Times Bestselling author, puts it, discipline brings “freedom”. Here are five time management tips that will help you learn how to manage time in a smart way so that you can maximize your productivity at work while preventing yourself from being burned out.
1) The importance of good habits
What do successful entrepreneurs have in common? They have all cultivated a habit of starting their day early. A series of studies have reiterated the importance of rising early in boosting productivity because of the resulted high level of will power. Besides, they also tend to follow habits strictly; whether to work out or have the same meal at the same time every day. Given that these decisions have already been made in advance, more energy and time can be allocated to focus on more critical tasks that matter to your business.
2) The importance of planning
As our working memory is limited, it is crucially important to have all of our activities planned out and things put in order. The disorder often negatively impacts mental clarity and it would be difficult for you to follow it strictly and accomplish anything if you do not have a well-planned daily schedule in advance. You should always break down your activities into simple steps. Successful entrepreneurs tend to decompose a complex task into pieces so that the remaining process becomes easy to comprehend and execute. In addition, planning in the longer term will save you time, let you focus better and determine whether your new tasks align with your goals. You can, for example, first define duties that are part and parcel to your future business success and set relevant KPIs accordingly. You will also have a better understanding of your weekly availability and thus reduce the possibility of burnout by putting too much on your plate.
Instead of planning to work on ten projects at a time, it is better to focus one thing at a time, according to Tim Ferris, an internationally renowned figure on productivity. It has been argued that working on each task individually can result in a higher level of productivity than multitasking. To boost productivity and combat burnout, it is thus better to accomplish four tasks correctly than to work on ten projects at a time without real concentration.
3) The importance of priority
There are only 24 hours in a day and you have a multitude of tasks to complete. You often find yourself swamped by trivial tasks, overlooking the essentials that bring real value in the long run or focusing on a single process for weeks. You should identify the level of urgency and importance in tasks and prioritize them accordingly. You can, for example, create a to-do list at the beginning of each day. To maximize results, you should divide large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. It is not just to see what to prioritize on your daily schedule, but to schedule your priorities effectively. Controlling and processing required daily tasks is the first step for entrepreneurs to focus on big-picture goals. By creating a prioritization system, you will not only identify priorities but have them all carefully planned on a daily schedule too, which will increase productivity and reduce stress.
4) The importance of progress check
Most of the time you will have to deal with several high priority tasks simultaneously, which can be pretty overwhelming and potentially burn you out. Having a regular review on your tasks becomes necessary as this will give you a better understanding of whether the goal has been set unrealistically, or if the tasks you spent weeks on has actually deviated from the business goals, so you can take remedial actions. If everything seems to be on track, distractions are likely to be eliminated and you will become more focused on results, with increased productivity which will positively impact your business. On the contrary, if you detect discrepancies between tasks and business goals, you should realign your schedule and focus on other important tasks.
5) The importance of breaks
Entrepreneurs often underestimate the harm of not taking breaks on their performance. As counterintuitive as it seems, we need to slow down to become more productive. It does not just mean more vacation days, but also small breaks throughout the day. You should take regular breaks between activities, for example, by taking a walk and relaxing for a moment. Having small breaks in between will allow you to freshen up your mind and continue to be motivated and productive in the long run.
At Garage Society, we value work-life balance and regularly organise activities for entrepreneurs, business owners, freelancers and professionals to learn and network while relaxing. Please feel free to contact us here at any time to learn more or to arrange a tour at any of our coworking locations across Asia.
Welcome back to Mandy's In-House Notes, a twice-monthly column touching on all things brand-building, entrepreneurship and female-empowerment related, from the mind of Mandy Pao.
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