The amount of time we have available every day is limited. Not every entrepreneur can put in 18-hour days—personal obligations and family life take up time, making it important that we maximize the time we do have allocated for business.
Here are five time-wasting habits that many entrepreneurs are guilty of. Eliminate these and watch your productivity increase.
1. Trying to do everything yourself.
You have to learn to delegate if you are ever going to be productive. All entrepreneurs are guilty of this at some point, especially in the beginning. You think you can handle everything—but as tasks and responsibilities stack up the weight on your shoulders becomes unbearable and everything collapses.
One of the best things I did for my company was admitting to myself that there were some things I wasn’t the best at. Delegating those tasks to other people that handled them more efficiently made a significant impact. You can’t do everything yourself, and the sooner you realize this, the better off you will be.
2. Saying ‘yes’ to everything.
One of the hardest things to do is say no. Personally, it took me a while to learn that it was physically impossible to try to accommodate every request that was presented to me. This circles around to point number one above—I thought I could do it all. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. If I received a request for a quick 15-minute chat, I would squeeze it in.
Looking back, all those little requests were time sucks. Instead of worrying about someone saying, “I can’t believe he said no—what a dick,” I learned to deny opportunities and requests that weren’t going to benefit my company and brand. Learning to value my time has lead to increased productivity, and while it might feel uncomfortable the first couple of times, I promise it becomes much easier after you experience first-hand how eliminating time-sucking requests improve your productivity.
3. Waiting for perfection.
Perfection doesn’t exist, and if you sit around waiting for it you’re going to miss the boat. When people are hung up on a task they will often say they are trying to perfect it before moving on to the next one. They are simply procrastinating.
It’s important that you understand perfection is a unicorn you most likely aren’t going to encounter. Imagine if companies such as Uber and Airbnb waited to expand into new markets until they perfected all of the working components of the business. They would still be sitting there wasting time, scratching their heads, waiting for something that wasn’t ever going to happen. Look how fast both companies have grown because they were extremely productive.
4. Allowing distractions to constantly interrupt your day.
Distractions will only interrupt your day if you let them. You have to create a work environment that provides you with some distraction-free time, allowing you to stay 100% focused. Every entrepreneur is going to have different distractions to deal with. Here are a few of things I do to eliminate some distractions:
No personal text replies: When I’m working I don’t reply to personal texts. It’s a time suck, but it also tells the other person that your work time isn’t valuable. Just because someone is bored at his or her desk or on a day off, it doesn’t mean you have to entertain them. When you ignore work-time texts and begin to reply to them in the evening when you are done, you will notice your mid-day interruptions will decrease significantly.
Airplane mode: If I’m working on something extremely important that requires complete focus I’ll switch my phone to airplane mode. When I simply silence my phone I still see the notification icons and I’m apt to pick it up and check emails and messages. Airplane mode prevents this and allows me to fully focus.
Block off calendar time: I have specific time blocked off on my calendar every day. When you get into this habit, you know without a doubt that you have a period of time without meetings, conference calls or distractions. This time will quickly become your most productive daily block of time.
5. Constantly refreshing your email inbox.
If you are constantly refreshing your email inbox, you are pissing away valuable time. It can become quite addictive. I suffered from this myself, and had to create a system to check and respond to emails that wouldn’t dig into my productivity.
I check my emails at set times every day and I also have someone screen them. The screening eliminates a lot of wasted time deleting junk, unsolicited requests and spam. When I do jump into my inbox it’s in and out, as I know everything waiting for me requires my attention and I fire back replies and address each one without having to waste time identifying the emails that are important. It’s a habit that isn’t easy to break, but once you do develop a system that works for you, the time saved will be very noticeable.
Related: The 7 rules of personal productivity
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This article also appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.