The life of an entrepreneur is a hectic one.
We are typically inundated with to-do lists and responsibilities, juggling business, personal, and professional relationships, and trying to do far more in a day than is typically realistic. We don’t often have the time to sit by ourselves and focus on our own thoughts or map out our goals in a very strategic way.
But most entrepreneurs and executives I know try to take some time at the start of every new year to reflect on where they are and wherever it is they want to move next. They see the holidays in December and the month of January as a time to reset, and to think clearly about what is going to drive the most impact for themselves and their businesses over the next 12 months. They then create a pragmatic and tactical action plan for themselves to turn their goals into reality.
One thing I have learned for myself, however, is that before you can start setting big, audacious goals for yourself as an entrepreneur, you have to really keep an eye out for the things in your life that are no longer serving you.
- We all have goals, but which ones are you prioritizing and which ones should you be prioritizing?
- What bad habits have you said you were going to break but haven’t yet?
- What relationships are taking up the majority of your time? Are they providing you with proportionate benefits in return?
- What things have you wanted to do, for yourself, but keep postponing?
- What projects or commitments have you been attached to for too long? At what point is it time to cut them loose?
The truth is, before you can create any sort of meaningful change in your life, you need to first “clean house.” You need to make room for the change you want to see happen.
Where most people go wrong, unfortunately, is they make a list of all the things they want to do differently without first auditing their current situation. They can come up with a dozen new things they want to add to their schedule without first questioning what commitments need to be removed and replaced. As a result, they create more conflict and confusion for themselves—because now they have to choose between even more items on their daily to-do list.
This year, if you want to get more done than you ever have before, take a moment to clean house and get rid of what is no longer serving you.
Once you’ve done that, here are three simple but highly effective tips to help you be more productive, make more connections, and achieve a new level of success for yourself as an entrepreneur.
Make a list of everything you want to do in a day, a week, a month, a year—then rank every item
One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is they try to do too much at once.
They tell themselves that everything is a priority—or worse, everything is the number one priority. The problem is, you can only do one thing at a time, so no matter how much you wish everything could be your number one priority, that expectation is impossible. You are always going to be picking and choosing, so you might as well make the choice consciously.
Rank all of your priorities in order. This exercise will force you to think hard about what responsibilities and commitments in your life should be given more attention than others.
Accurately track (as best you can) how long each priority in your life takes you, and start to optimize for time
Time management is all about finding unique ways to do more with less.
Before you can start optimizing for time, however, you have to have an accurate sense of how long things take you in the first place. When you go to the gym, is that a 30-minute ordeal or does it take you an hour and a half? When you grab lunch, do you eat in an hour or can you be in and out in 30 minutes?
Deliberately tracking your calendar and seeing how long your commitments actually take you will help you decide where your biggest time wasters are—and reveal to you where in your schedule you can be more efficient.
Build relationships with other power-networkers
Every single relationship in your life is a time investment.
In order to understand your priorities and be efficient with your time, you need to be honest with yourself about who you are choosing to spend your time with. People who really struggle with networking make the mistake of trying to be friends with everyone, giving a little bit of themselves to as many people as they possibly can. Master networkers, however, realize that some relationships are more valuable than others—and prioritize building long-lasting, meaningful relationships with other people who have large networks in themselves.
Taking this approach, you aren’t just building a relationship with one individual; you are building a relationship with the individual and their entire network.
Winston Ibrahim is the founder and CEO of Hydros, an innovative water filtration startup with proprietary technology that works at five times the speed of standard home filtration systems.