Today is going to be the most productive day ever.
I have my coffee brewing, my laptop out, and I am going to start working on some gr….
Oh! look, an email.
I’ll just check this email and then I will start my day. Besides, it will only take a m…Wow, another like on my FB post.
One hour later, it is now time to remember what that important task was in the first place. This is a typical routine for most entrepreneurs. There are so many distractions that cause us to become crippled by time wasters. For the most part, we can avoid these time wasters by implementing simple systems to eliminate the distractions from occurring in the first place.
One of the reasons why people struggle with these distractions is because it can be so boring to plan for productivity. However, these 5 strategies take little time to initiate and will save you from spinning in circles.
#1 Email Inbox
My inbox housed 2,741 emails until I found a cure for my organizational illness.
Looking back, it was like I was one of those people from the show, Hoarders. Why would anyone need to jump into an inbox of over two thousand emails? This is simply a never ending distraction.
I want you to come to the light and see how refreshing an empty inbox can be. I don’t get stuck scrolling to find the ‘good emails’ and I don’t spend much time having to re-read anything (by the way, you will absolutely do this if you aren’t at inbox-zero).
Here are the four steps to eliminate emails from your list of time wasters:
Step 1: Create the Important Folders / Labels
Let’s create one folder that says ‘Important!’ or ‘Respond Now!’ This is going to be the folder that we move all our urgent emails over to. Once this is done, you can add a few other categorical folders if you want, but this is not necessary.
The goal. here is to keep an eye on the emails we need later and get rid of the rest. This way, we will be able to FOCUS on what is important.
Step 2: Get Rid of Everything Else
Now, we will either archive or delete the remaining emails. Do not panic. We will be able to find any of these emails in the future by searching for the sender or keywords within the email.
Also, create automated rules to move emails that we may need to see later, but are not urgent to respond to. When you create a rule for a specific sender or phrases, it will automatically place these in the correct folder. Once this is done, we should be able to reduce a nice chunk of emails that normally hit the inbox.
Step 3: Prioritize Each and Every Email
Yes, let’s look at all our emails, one-by-one. By doing this we can ‘tag’ that email as important or trash.
For example, when I open up my inbox on a Monday morning, I typically have around 20 emails waiting for me. Oh look, the first one is from a client. Let’s move that to ‘Important!’ The next one is an FYI from a friend. Boom, this one is gone.
Once I’m finished combing through (takes about 1 minute), I am able to focus 100% on the important stuff.
Step 4: Stop Checking Your Inbox
This is the biggest reason why our inbox becomes the king of all time wasters. We will jump in and out all day long and it takes away from our focus. An easy fix to this is to stop checking our inbox when a new email comes through.
The best system to implement is to schedule times to check your emails. Literally, block off your schedule and have a meeting with just you and your inbox. I block off 30 minutes at 9:00am, 1:00pm, and 5:00pm. By doing this, I can stay super focused on the tasks at hand.
#2 Social Media Management
Getting caught up in social media is like falling into the black hole of the internet.
There are many of entrepreneurs that spend more time than they should on this task. The goal here is to have a healthy balance of content creation, curation, and aggregation (depending on the value you want to deliver to your audience).
At the very least, we should have a specific routine that allows us to automatically find content inspiration and ideas. Once our content bank has filled up, we can use a social media management tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to help schedule and automate the posts.
You could take a page from Chris Buetti’s playbook, and automate everything with a bot. This might be taking it a bit too far, but what he did was quite impressive.
It is 2019 people (at least it was when we wrote this). There is no need to play the back and forth, “What day/time works for you?” As a matter of fact, here is a conversation I had prior to automating my appointment scheduling:
If you aren’t using a scheduling tool, you aren’t only wasting time, but encouraging human error as well. We may get the time zone wrong or forget to confirm the appointment, which causes confusion that isn’t necessary.
Calendly is a great option to throw your entire calendar to the recipient so they can jump on and have an automated confirmation/reminder sent to both parties.
This is a no-brainer if you aren’t already automating this task already. Feel free to take their free version for a test drive to see how seamless appointment scheduling can be.
#4 App Juggling
Multiple studies show that entrepreneurs use at least 5 applications to operate their business.
The problem here is most of the apps we use aren’t always synchronized together. These apps may be beneficial, but they are certainly time wasters if they aren’t optimized for efficiency. There are two ways we can tackle this.
Option A: Zoho One
Option B: Zapier
Zoho One is like a business in a box. This is a CRM tool that has a suite of over 45 applications, all under one roof (and all under one license!). Instead of jumping from vendor to vendor, with Zoho, you can find almost any tool that any entrepreneur would need for their business.
Zapier takes a different approach to efficiency. Let’s say you don’t want to switch your vendors or applications. Zapier has the ability to integrate over 1,500 apps so they can work in harmony. With the apps integrated, you will be able to create rules to automate tasks and functions to streamline all your work.
Either option will allow you to work smarter and take control of your day.
#5 Ignoring Time Management
If you don’t use a daily strategy to manage these time wasters, your workdays will continue to produce arbitrary results.
The information above can be summarized into 3 words: Focus, Elimination, & Automation.
In order to manage our time, we need to stop multitasking and get laser-focused at the one task at hand. Creating time boxes is a great way to dedicate a specific amount of time to a task or project and it helps you remember what is important at any time throughout the day.
Once we are focused on what we need to accomplish, let’s find a way to NOT do that task. First, let’s see if we can eliminate the task. Remember when we deleted/archived all our emails? Yes, anytime we can get rid of anything non-urgent, we should absolutely do so.
Okay, so we can’t eliminate all tasks, but we still don’t have to do them ourselves. How much is your time worth? How often will we need to complete this task? Depending on the answers to these questions, we may want to find a freelancer or virtual assistant from an online platform to take these items off our plate.
To sum everything up, we can improve our productivity by eliminating minor distractions and focusing on the most impactful items for our business.
But don’t stop there! Now that we have our business routine down, let’s start automating the time wasters from our personal lives as well.
Ready – Set – Automate!
Let’s start today:
- If you haven’t cleaned up your email inbox, give it a shot and become ever enlightened.
- Do you want to provide a ton of value to a colleague or friend? Share this with them!
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