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How to keep productivity high and stress low

By Ryan Jackson, founder and CEO of Gemini Parking Solutions

Many have the idea of starting a business as they are seeking more freedom, and want to earn more money while doing so on their own terms. Unfortunately for most, when setting up in business after a short period of time this dream soon fades away in to the background and a harsher reality then begins to appear. 

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Spare time becomes a thing of the past as you sacrifice evenings and weekends in order to keep money coming in. The stress of financial pressure, having to ensure funds are available to pay invoices each month. Unknowingly, you have become locked into a co-dependent relationship where the business solely relies on your input in order to operate and maintain its identity. So how can you break the cycle?


Ditch the to-do list

There is a huge difference between being busy and being productive – and one of the major things holding back most entrepreneurs is their habit of keeping a daily to-do list. 

A big to-do list doesn’t equal in big results – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Trivial tasks and numerous items scatter your attention and increase stress. Without the required space and clarity, we run the risk of becoming lost and unable to see through the fog within our business. Lists lead you to feel the need to take ownership of tasks that drain your precious energy and time, which stifles creativity. 

To-do lists don’t account for your time. Nor do they commit you to taking action at a specific time, for a certain duration. So, ensure that you schedule important tasks into your calendar or online diary, with reminders set – and act on them at the allotted time. Let your schedule guide you.

Focus your days

Instead of switching between tasks and different areas of work throughout the day, which requires a constant shifting of focus, aim to devote whole days to certain themes. For example, spend Mondays on management meetings and one-to-ones; Tuesdays on marketing, business generation and growth; Wednesdays on new developments and partnerships, and so on.

Concentrating fully on one theme throughout the day helps you to be more focused, and more productive – and if you are interrupted, it’s easier to pick up the thread again. This is not so easy if you are dealing with multiple areas hour by hour, needing to refamiliarise yourself with those different areas of work, each time.

Know your worth

As a business owner, you should know the value you bring to your business and how this equates to a monetary value. It’s a great idea to calculate your hourly rate and overall worth to the business, which often helps you to gain perspective on the tasks you should – or shouldn’t – be focusing on.

 

For example, are you paying yourself £50 per hour to read irrelevant emails, or do filing? Being aware of your hourly cost to the business helps you to determine which tasks you should dedicate your valuable time to, and which tasks to delegate.

Step back

When running a business, it’s so easy to get caught up in the small things. In the past I worked with a professional mentor, Marianne Page, who showed me how to work on my business goals and stop getting bogged down with the day-to-day stuff. 

For example, when we looked at how we deal with customers it became obvious that I was doing the lion’s share – and that does not make good business sense. So, as well as automating certain processes, others have been spread across the team and new people appointed to deal with them. We also put new quality control systems in place.

Marianne’s approach is to break everything down into bite-sized chunks. She calls it ‘mapping out your 3-1-90’. It’s all about working out where you want to be in three years’ time and what you need to do in the next three years, two years, the next year and the next 90 days to achieve your vision, focusing on key business areas. Mine are service, people, infrastructure and growth. When you keep your key values clear in mind, the rest falls into place.