Do you want to hear a secret?
Productivity is a struggle for me.
I’ve never been one of those people who just naturally has incredibly productive days without any effort. Like many of you, I’ve spent a lot of time looking for that “secret method” that the most prolifically successful people use to get truly magnificent amounts of work done every day.
I’ve learned that the best thing we can do to be productive is copy the habits of people who are. Through studying the most successful and productive people in the world, I’ve noticed a few key habits that they all have in common.
5 Ways Successful Entrepreneurs Get Things Done
Don’t expect these to be easy to put into practice, but do expect a huge increase in your work output when you do.
These are 5 great ways successful entrepreneurs get things done.
1. Maximize Your Morning
“An hour in the morning is worth two in the evening” – Old Chinese proverb
Successful people know how to make the most of their morning hours. It’s just a fact of life. I used to think, “I’m a night person; I don’t have to get up early because my most productive hours aren’t in the morning.”
Guess what? That’s just an excuse! If you make yourself start getting up early, you’ll quickly see how much more you get done every day.
The most productive hours of the day for EVERYONE are before noon. The earlier you wake up, the more of those hours you have. Find any successful person, entrepreneur or otherwise, and I’m willing to bet they wake up before sunrise.
Take Richard Branson for example. This guy has launched over 400 companies in 50 years, which is about 8 new companies per year. How does he find the time?
Why is maximizing your morning so powerful? Two reasons:
- Waking up early gives you quiet time to focus before the rest of the world demands your attention.
- Rising early forces you to start your day with a disciplined action – getting out of bed before you want to. “Mind over mattress,” as the saying goes.
The combination of forced discipline, clearer focus and more of those precious morning hours is enough to supercharge anyone’s productivity and make it worth setting that early alarm.
2. Make Less Choices
A couple months ago, Mark Zuckerberg held his first-ever public Q&A. The whole session was over an hour long, but one question stood out from the rest as both quirky and revealing. It was, “Why do you wear the same gray t-shirt every day?”
“I really want to clear my life so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything other than how to best serve this Facebook community … I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life.”
Over the past 7 years, psychologists have coined a new concept called Decision Fatigue.
The gist of this theory is that you have a static amount of energy that you can devote to making decisions. Every decision you make takes away from that energy reserve, no matter how small the decision may be (such as deciding what to wear, or what to eat).
Mentally walkthrough your average day, from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed – are there any decisions you could cut out? Anything that could be simplified?
FYI – This is also the reason that routines are such a powerful tool. They automate a lot of your decision-making throughout the day.
3. Stop Focusing on Your Goals
This tip is a little counter intuitive. After all, most of us have been taught that we need to spend MORE time focusing on our goals.
The problem is that goals aren’t tangible, and they inevitably change over time. Plus, focusing on a goal doesn’t do anything to actually move you closer to achieving it.
When you set really big goals (which every single person reading this has), spending a lot of time thinking about them only makes you focus on how far you have to go.
Now don’t get me wrong, setting clear goals is crucially important to success. It’s one thing to take five minutes a day to write down your goals; that’s fine. What’s not fine is spending hours every week “meditating” on your goals or “visualizing” your success.
Instead, schedule a dedicated block of time to thinking about and clarifying your goals. For example, I like to set aside time during the first weekend of every month to reviewing my short-term goals.
Then, every three months I update my short-term goals, and every six months I update my long-term goals.
4. Focus on What You Can Do TODAY
With these past couple habits, you should be starting to notice a trend – what you think about has an enormous effect on your productivity.
Many of you have heard of David Allen’s book ‘Getting Things Done‘. It’s an awesome resource that’s taught me a metric ton about productivity.
One of the key things Allen stresses in GTD is that instead of thinking about your goals – which you can’t directly influence today – focus on the specific tasks that lie directly in front of you.
In other words, the only things that you should allow yourself to think about are the things that you can do RIGHT NOW. Everything else should either be written down for future reference or put out of your mind.
Again, this is much easier to put into practice when you’ve allotted time to think about your goals outside of your work day. Here’s how this whole process works for me:
- I think about and clarify my goals at the start of every month
- I make a weekly to-do list at the start of every week
- Then I can spend every day only thinking about the things I’m doing that day
5. Identify Your “One Thing”
You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 Rule, yeah?
Basically, this centuries-old rule states that 80% of output comes from 20% of input. Over the past 100 years, this has been proven true in everything from economics to botany to fitness.
And yes, it applies to entrepreneurship too… More and more entrepreneurs today are taking it to the extreme, and finding extreme success by doing so.
Just look at people like Clay Collins, the CEO of LeadPages. Several years ago, he figured out that LeadPages was the most profitable part of his business, so he cut almost everything else out of his life and built an entire team around that one thing.
LeadPages is arguably the most popular lead-generation software in the world, and only getting bigger.
The same thing happened with CopyBlogger… It started as a blog, showed some success, and with dedicated focus became a full-fledged software suite and education platform for content marketers.
The same thing happened with Pat Flynn over at SmartPassiveIncome, and with Justin and Joe over at EmpireFlippers. These are all people who found that “one thing” that worked, and then cut everything else away so that they could grow that thing into a huge success.
Do you have any side projects that take up a disproportionate amount of time to the amount of revenue they bring into your business?
It takes guts to cut these things away because it almost always means losing short-term income. However, the effective ROI when you’re willing to do everything in your power to take something good and make it into something great can’t be put into numbers.
I’ll leave you with one last little tip, which is that productivity is a habit like any other, and it’s never going to be perfect.
Even the most successful people have unproductive days. Don’t beat yourself up about it; just pick it back up tomorrow and continue ingraining these habits into your daily life. With time it will become easier.
Remember, success is a marathon, not a sprint!
- If you want to mirror the most successful people, get up early. Just do it.
- Make less choices everyday through the use of a daily routine and scheduled goal-setting time
- How you think affects what you do, so only allow yourself to think about what you can do right now
- The most prolific entrepreneurs today have laser-like focus on the highest-return part of their business