7 biggest time wasters in an entrepreneur’s day

Time is precious for entrepreneurs. Protect yours by avoiding these 7 major time wasters in an entrepreneur’s day.

You’ll achieve a lot more in your day by dodging these 7 productivity-killing time wasters.

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1. Improvising your day

Do you come to work with a plan each morning or do you just go with the flow? New entrepreneurs often get pulled in all directions by their partners, staff, and clients—which may not leave much time to tackle their long-term goals and priorities.

How to avoid it: Every day before work (or every night before you go to bed), take 15 minutes to plan the work day ahead. List your top tasks, how you’ll achieve them, and how you'll schedule them. Consider using a To Do list planner like Wunderlist or a time-tracking app like Toggl or Timely to log how much time you spend on projects and view your project and team schedules.

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2. Constantly checking email

Every time you receive a new email, your concentration is blown. If you keep your email open all day, you’ll be distracted dozens or hundreds of times.

How to avoid it: Time-box your email communication into precise time periods. At the same time every day, say mid-morning and mid-afternoon, set alarms for yourself to tackle your in-box, without distractions, and fire off your brief, important messages. Still feel overwhelmed? Here are tips on how to master your email overload.

3. Doing it all yourself

New entrepreneurs are so excited (and protective) about their business ideas, they don’t want someone else taking over that work. So they avoid delegating even minor tasks to their team members.

How to avoid it: You need help to build an empire. Focus on what you do best, and hire talented people you trust to do the rest of the work.

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4. Unnecessary meetings

Meetings are valuable for sharing information, setting goals, and making big decisions. However, if you find yourself trapped in endless meetings, you’ll start seeing them as useless or, worse, costly. Here’s a meeting cost calculator to see how much you’re spending on meetings and how much you could be saving.

How to avoid it: Skip unnecessary meetings and reduce the length of the rest—most lengthy meetings can be cut down to half an hour or less, simply by having an agenda and a strong moderator. Here are 10 tech tools for running efficient online meetings.

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5. Too much socializing

A friendly work environment is important, just be sure you don’t lose valuable work time by over-interacting with coworkers and office neighbours.

How to avoid it: When you need to focus, find a quiet spot and wear headphones (easy-to-see, over-the-ear headphones make it crystal-clear that you’re busy). If your workspace has a door, close it and hang a Do Not Disturb sign. You can also avoid interruptions by working when there are less of them. Come in early or work late, as less people means less interruptions.

6. Ignoring your exhaustion

Entrepreneurs are working themselves to exhaustion and suffering burnout at a high rate. When you’re constantly tired, you’re vulnerable to distraction and will find it easier to lose your focus. Bottom line: if you aren’t mentally prepared to do great work, you won’t be as successful as you desire.

How to avoid it: Make sleep and self-care a top priority. A great night’s sleep will pay off during your work day as you’ll be ready to tackle the world. To help you wind down after a long day’s work, here are:

7. Online distractions

The Internet is an incredible resource. It’s the source of so much of your business’s revenue, data, and communications. It can also be a huge productivity-killer as social media, shopping, videos, and games are designed to keep you hooked and coming back.

How to avoid it: If you find yourself getting distracted by certain websites, use a website blocker extension like Stayfocusd or Freedom. You can also use the Pomodoro Technique to help you work in focused sprints. Set the tomato timer for 25 minutes then work till you hear the buzzer. Take a 5-minute break (called a ‘pomodoro’) then reset the timer and get back to work for 25 more minutes. After about four pomodoros, take a longer break of 15-20 minutes. Here’s a testimonial from a freelance hustler who gives this technique a rave review.

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