‘It’s the small wins that count’ – How to make every day productive

Thought leader Mike Saunders shares his personal productivity hacks for entrepreneurs


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Entrepreneurs are often dubbed workaholics because of how hard we work. I think we should work hard but only on the things that matter. We should not be caught up in busyness, but rather focus on business.

Our attention should be caught by our dreams, aspirations and vision - not someone else’s. If we don’t take control of our time someone else will, possibly an investor, possibly a customer. An unfocused entrepreneur is dangerous for their business.

Productivity for an entrepreneur is not about doing things faster. It’s about being able to cut through the clutter to find the right things to focus your time on. Productivity for the entrepreneur is about finding clarity and purpose in your day instead of checking off a to-do list.

"I found I needed the small wins every day to keep me focused"

In my time as an entrepreneur, I have found the following tips very helpful in becoming a more valuable asset to my business.

With these four things in mind you will surely be a more productive and focused entrepreneur:

1) Set daily goals and achieve them

Entrepreneurs are people looking to win and sometimes that win takes a long time to see. I found I needed the small wins every day to keep me focused. Taking time each morning as I got ready for the day to consider that biggest challenge that needed to be solved, the things that needed to be done and the wins that were possible to achieve that day.

I don’t have a magic number of goals for each day. Some days I need to perform better than others. I simply take what needs to be done and set out to get it done. The trick was to focus on the things that built my business and not get distracted by the things that didn’t.

2) Focus on what only you can do

Too often we focus on trying to get everything done. Rather focus on what only you can do, the value only you can bring to the team. Then delegate everything else.

Delegating to others should mean that you spend more time adding value and less time doing stuff. In a world of commoditisation and heavy competition we need to spend as much time as possible adding value to our service, business and customer.

"You brain makes the best decisions when it is not stressed"

Just keep focusing on the work only you can do and don’t get distracted by everything else

3) Get Away!

You need down time, time to let your brain reset. You brain makes the best decisions when it is not stressed. That’s why we often solve problems in the shower.

Make sure you regularly unwind and relax your brain. You will find you will make better decisions in the long run.

4) Take time to consider, implement with confidence

Too many entrepreneurs act quickly without thinking things through. They do this because they have huge volumes of work to deal with, and massive responsibilities that occupy their mind. Given the choice, an entrepreneur would love to spend more time making sure their solution is right. Time simply does not allow it.

I have found that splitting my problem solving into two parts has helped me make decisions faster and better.

Part one: Gather informationI take the time to read up on the problem as far as possible before I have to make a decision. The minute I hear about a meeting that has been set to solve a problem I take time to read everything regarding that problem.

Part two: SimmerThen I let this information ‘simmer’ over time before the meeting. This simmer time has become invaluable to me; it helps me think through things thoroughly, away from time constraints and the pressure to make a call.

As entrepreneurs we’re generally always thinking about the business. Direct your thoughts by reading up on the problems you need to solve early. Then the thinking time will move into your ‘dead’ time and not ‘work' times.

About the author: Mike has won the respect of business by his determined approach to helping business navigate a diverse and complicated world of Digital and Business. Mike’s digital agency DigitLab was voted one of South Africa’s Best Digital Agency by The Bookmarks Awards in 2012. Mike is also an entrepreneur and businessman.

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