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  • 19 March 2015
  • Eric Michaels

Maximizing productivity: An entrepreneur's guide to getting stuff done

In the course of starting and operating a small business, your time is going to be pressed from every possible angle. While there are always excuses for why something did not get done, you should arm yourself with techniques that allow you to block out distractions and maximize your productivity. Here are techniques used by successful entrepreneurs from every calling:

Start the day prepared

Business leaders as diverse as Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, and Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, swear by an early start to the day and a morning exercise routine. In fact, Business Insider's list of 27 executives who wake up by the crack of dawn reveals the people who are most successful in their industries use the early morning hours to focus and prepare—and they use the physical and mental energy to their advantage throughout the day.

If you know what you are doing before you even arrive at the office, then you can visualize how you will reach your first goal and steamroll through the rest of your day.

Have your priorities in order
If you know what you are doing before you even arrive at the office, then you can visualize how you will reach your first goal and steamroll through the rest of your day. This productive way of working is only possible when you compile a list of your top priorities and make sure you get them done in a timely fashion. Many successful entrepreneurs take several hours every week to establish their short-term goals and then attack them in small chunks.

Limit distractions

It might feel like you can juggle e-mails with a new proposal and next month's marketing plan, but you are likely wasting time with each task. Focus on one job at a time to cross off items on your to-do list throughout the day. Achieving this level of focus means limiting your distractions: Set aside a few 15-minute breaks per day to return e-mails and address urgent text messages. Inform your staff as to when you plan to take time to address your inbox, so they know to expect replies at those times.

Delegate the tedious tasks

Do you feel like a good chunk of every day is consumed by tedious work that gets your company nowhere? If so, it is time to hire staff members who are better suited for these tasks. Better yet, outsource jobs you have no business completing based on the skill set of your team. Affordable accounting, marketing, and recruiting services are available at the UPS Store.

Obtain the tools for productivity

If you know your computer (or phone, or Internet speed) is slower than you need it to be, make a move to improve it. The tools for a productive workplace are widely available, and you should ensure your team has the means to succeed in every aspect of the job. Even if you must shut down operations for a day to download new apps or explore new tech devices, the boost in work speed and office morale will pay back for the time lost in short order.

Know when to quit

Every person has a breaking point in terms of productive work hours. Once you reach that point, you are better off sitting on your couch than in front of a computer screen. In a 2014 Stanford University study, the breaking point for most people proved to be between six and eight hours. Work weeks of 56 or 70 hours often produced similar results. Using this data, it is clear that staying late is neither heroic nor productive. Instead, use downtime to restore your energy and mental capacity.

Refine productivity techniques

Some entrepreneurs are unable to block out e-mails and texts they receive throughout the day because of the nature of their business. These techniques require fine-tuning for specific work situations and industries. Review what is working on a regular basis so you can tweak the formula to suit your needs. Maybe midday exercise breaks or late meetings make more sense in your line of work. Only you know how work flows best in your company.

Entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to be more productive. No matter which solution works for you, consider the time you spend on the search an important part of your day.

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