The most effective entrepreneurs view themselves as assets. They continually invest in themselves and in their future through continuing education and self-improvement.
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If you want to become a better entrepreneur and successfully grow your business, dedicate time and energy to improve your daily habits.
Here are 15 things many business influencers make time for in their busy schedules.
1. Eat breakfast. To work at your peak performance, your body needs fuel. Rather than just grab a cup of coffee on your way to the office, take a few minutes to eat a meal or drink a protein smoothie — even if it’s on the go.
2. Plan your day. First thing in the morning, look at your calendar and prioritize your schedule. If you work best during a specific time of the day, block out those hours for quiet work time. I do my best work in the mornings, so I try to schedule at least 90 minutes to work on my writing before daily distractions begin. While you’re at it, schedule short breaks throughout the day to eat a healthy snack and keep your energy up.
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3. Don’t check email right away. It’s tough not to hop on your smart phone first thing in the morning and see who’s emailed you. Often checking email is a distraction from what you want to focus on early in the day. Try to wait until 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. to check email, after you’ve completed at least one of your critical to-do items. If you’re working on an important project, try not to check your email more than three times a day.
4. Remember your purpose. Take a few moments at the start of each workday to remind yourself of your company’s goals. Think about your core customer and which areas of your business are most profitable. We oftentimes get caught up in the minutia of daily tasks we lose sight of what brings us happiness and profitability.
5. Single-task. We live in a world that praises multi-tasking. Unfortunately, when you have too much going on at once you may become distracted by interruptions and unimportant glitches. To be productive and effective, prioritize, delegate whenever possible and focus.
6. Visualize. It may feel silly, but close your eyes and envision your success. Imagine what you will feel like when you reach your goals. Visualization is a powerful tool and can help you keep your aspirations at the front of your mind. It might also help to post a picture of what you’d like to accomplish. For example, if you’re interested in taking a trip to Paris, post of photo of the Eiffel Tower on your desk.
7. Say no. Entrepreneurs especially feel pressure to accept every opportunity that comes their way. However, not every opportunity will benefit you or your business. Time is our most valuable commodity. Be selective about what you agree to do.
8. Value your time. Unlike money, time is a non-renewable resource. There’s simply no way to make more of it. Guard your time and spend it doing the most important things for yourself and your company. Avoid distractions whenever possible. Whether you facilitate or attend a meeting, online or in person, get clear about the start and end time. Whenever someone requests a meeting or consultation with you, try asking for the questions in advance so you can do your research ahead of time. This will keep you on time and on task.
9. Delegate. In the early days of my business, I thought I could save money and do everything myself. Then I realized the small, mundane tasks were taking me away from those things that generated the most income for my business. I was on the fast track to burnout. When you become overwhelmed with work or can’t figure out a solution, hire someone to help.
10. Listen. Be present when you speak with a colleague or employee. Take the time to fully understand what the other person is saying. Leaders who listen effectively avoid miscommunications and are less likely to have to ask for clarification later.
11. Show gratitude. Make it a daily habit to sit down and be thankful for all the opportunities you have been given and all the things you’ve accomplished so far. Simply reminding yourself of your past successes will keep you focused, present and productive.
12. Stand up and move around. Did you know sitting is the new smoking? This car-commuting, desk-bound lifestyle can be harmful to your health. Studies show it raises the risk of disability, diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer and obesity. No matter when you can make time for it during the day, take a few minutes to stand up and take activity breaks every hour or so. It’s good for your body and mind.
13. Breathe deeply. Many people take shallow breaths. Every hour or so, stand up from your desk, stretch and take 10 deep breaths. The quick break and boost of oxygen will reinvigorate you for your next task.
14. Take a lunch break. Get up from your desk and eat lunch elsewhere. If you can’t spare even a moment away from work during the day, make lunch your networking hour. Schedule lunch meetings throughout the week with key clients, professional acquaintances or friends.
15. Clear your desk. At the end of each day, clear the clutter from your desk. Put away your pens, stack loose paper and straighten other items. A clear desk will give you a clean slate for the next day and prevent you from feeling bogged down by yesterday’s work.
Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach. She is also the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).