No one ever said being an entrepreneur was easy!
When we hear that word, Entrepreneur, there are a few things that might come to mind. The first is that as entrepreneurs, we are the 1% crazy out of all our friends and family. Others might look at us entrepreneurs and think that we have it made in the shade. Thinking we can sleep in, take breaks to do what we want and have a ton of freedom.
I will say, the 1% crazy part is true. To be an entrepreneur you have to be at least a little bit crazy. As for the freedom part, that’s only somewhat true.
It’s true that we have freedom but as an entrepreneur, especially starting out, we wear a lot of hats and what might seem glamorous is really just a lot of stress, early mornings and late nights making sure we serve our clients and customers at the highest level.
I have talked before about becoming an entrepreneur and how I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit in me but it wasn’t until I left the Beer Store that I really started my journey.
When I started that journey, I’ll tell you this…I had no idea what I was getting into!
I was like most and thought that I would work with my clients and make sure they are taken care of but I thought I would have so much freedom. I would be able to go with the guys golfing when they asked, I thought I would be able to stop what I was doing and be able to go get a coffee or go get a beer in the afternoon if friends asked me to join them.
After all, I was the “boss” now and could do what I wanted, not having to answer to anyone.
The reality of being an entrepreneur hit me quick when I got my home office all setup and started working.
After my morning coffee I would go put my mug in the sink and realized that the morning dishes were there from when I had breakfast. I would think, no problem, I have all day. I would take care of that and realize I needed to take out the garbage.
After that I would see some dust on my desk and then continue to clean that up and while I was at it, sweep and wash the floors. After all, I was my own boss and had all day to get to work.
It took me months to finally get into a routine and start being more productive. I had to go through the “hustle” phase of being an entrepreneur, working early in the morning and late into the night burning the candle at both ends before I realized there was a much better way to get things done and still have time for the things I wanted to do.
I look back now and even in my days at the Beer Store, missing holiday dinners because I had to work Sunday’s and even missing events and parties with friends because I was always working and I knew I wanted better.
I was starting to fall into that pattern to a point as an entrepreneur where I was missing events I could have gone to with friends because I had to stay in the office and get a few more things done.
Through everything I tried and tested one of the most important lessons I learned was to step back and make sure I had a plan. So many of us rely on our phones, tablets, laptops and computers that we forget how important it is to take a break from digital and use good old pen and paper.
When I started to really plan things out, I found an entrepreneur by the name of Brendon Burchard who had a planner/agenda that he used to stay productive and after seeing what it could do, I bought one to give it a test.
The purpose of Brendon’s planner is to help entrepreneurs become high performers and that is why he called his planner, the High Performance planner. In the planner you have the ability to plan out your week and use the agenda portion to stay organized but better than that, there is a series of questions/statements that you answer to get in the right mindset each morning and in the evening.
On top of the daily mindset and evening journal portion to the planner, it has a weekly and monthly review section and planner so you are able to plan for the next month and review what you did in the previous week/month so you could move forward and improve on what you have learned.
If you’re not familiar with Rocketbook it’s a reusable notebook that uses a specific pen where you’re able to write on the poly-free plastic pages and when you’re done you can erase them with a cloth and some water. The best part is with the app, you’re able to store your agenda, notes and drawings to whatever cloud storage you want from Google Drive to Evernote, OneNote and even straight to your or someone else’s email.
I bought and currently use 2 different styles of the Rocketbook, the Fusion planner that I use mainly to plan long term as well as I use this as my main notebook. This is what I will take to meetings or have with me on a call to take notes.
The second is the Panda Planner. This is an outright planner where I’m able to plan out each week as well as get into the right mindset daily as it has an area to talk about what you’re grateful for, excited about and an affirmation for the day.
The bonus to using the Panda planner is you’re able to write down your tasks for the day and then take the top 5 you need to complete (3 is the recommended number and I’ll get into why soon). Writing these down is incredibly powerful and a great way to keep what you have to do for the day front and center on the top of your mind.
After using my Rocketbooks for a little over a year now I came across an entrepreneur by the name of Alex Charfen. Alex is in my opinion one of the best and brightest entrepreneurs out there and a brilliant coach.
Alex developed a planner and a system called the Momentum Planner and to this day, it’s by far the best planner I have used. Alex realizes that mindset is the key to staying productive and creating momentum. He knows we all have our phones, tablets and computers by our side so he took out the agenda portion of the planner and focused just on mindset and tasks.
In the Momentum Planner, like Brendon’s High Performance Planner, he gives you a spot to do a weekly review where he will ask you a series of questions like what went right and where do I need support moving forward.
These are incredibly powerful questions as it makes us be honest with ourselves as entrepreneurs and forces us to realize that we can’t do it alone and that asking for help is never a bad thing.
As far as the daily mindset and planner function of the Momentum planner, there are just 4 sections to start your day. He asks what is your intention for the day, where were you uncomfortable the previous day and 2 sections for tasks. To close out the day, you are asked to talk about your wins and this is very important.
Talking about your wins for the day will set you up for the following day and get you ready with the right mindset moving forward.
As I mentioned previously, when it comes to writing your tasks out, this is where the Momentum Planner really stands out.
It’s no secret, I love ToDoist for keeping track of my To Do List as well as it’s my project management tool but a lot of the tasks I have in there are recurring tasks that are part of the routines I have set.
Although a lot of that has become second nature there are times I will miss something if I’m not paying attention and that’s where the Momentum Planner comes in handy.
A large portion of the daily section is set aside to write out the tasks you want to accomplish for any given day. As an example I might have 50+ tasks in my ToDoist for any given day but out of those tasks, maybe 15 are important and what I need to get done for the day.
After writing those tasks out, they are fresh and at the top of my mind for the day and I now know exactly what needs to be done.
From there I will review the 15 tasks and look to see what are the most important ones. If something comes up and I am unable to finish those 15 tasks there are alway 3 tasks that absolutely must be done in order for the day to be successful.
Those are the tasks that you focus on first. They are also the biggest and most challenging tasks like I have mentioned before when I talked about the book, Eat That Frog. Once I am finished with those tasks, I will then revisit my list and look for the next 3 and work from there until that list is complete.
These are just a couple of the tools that I use each and every day to make sure I have a plan in place both daily and weekly to make sure I stay productive but when it actually comes down to completing these tasks, writing them down isn’t the end all be all solution.
On an accountability call 2 years ago, Rachel Pedersen’s VA ran the call and introduced us to time blocking. I had never heard of this before and I’ll say this, it changed my life and the way I work.
This is something I use Google Calendar for and helps to keep me focused and on track with whatever I have planned for the day.
I will use Google Calendar (you can use whatever calendar you prefer) and block time slots out in either 1 or 2 hour blocks depending on the task.
This is where I dive into whatever task I’m working on and only focus on that. I will stay off my phone, away from my email and off all social media platforms for that period of time. Once I’m finished with the block of time, I will take a short break and step away from the desk and my screens.
This is where I will walk around the office, get more water and stretch my body so that when I sit back down I’m nice and refreshed for the next task and the next block of time to work in.
I want to know, what do you do to stay productive and on top of your tasks and projects as an entrepreneur?
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Are you curious about these tools as well as all the other tools I use on a daily basis to not only stay productive but able to continually grow my business?
These are tools that can help you grow your business no matter what industry you’re in even if it’s not an information product. These tools will work in any industry.
Just click the link below and I’ll send you all the resources and tools that I use on a daily basis so they can help you too!