Successful entrepreneurs are problem solvers, but one of the problems they can’t solve is that there are only 24 hours in a day.
Though, from the outside, it seems that they get more done in a single day than us mere mortals can get done in a week. But, the truth is that they have figured out how to use less time to get more done.
They generally don’t fill their days from end to end and often work reasonable hours. It’s just that they know how to use their hours better.
We often want to take the time to make well thought through decisions. However, we will only know if we made the right decisions after the fact.
We generally only know around 20% of the information upfront and will find out the rest after going through with it.
Most decisions also tend to be less permeant than we think. Jeff Bezos explained that most decisions are reversible. Very few things in life are truly permanent.
You can find a new job if you quit your old one. Start a new business if the previous one failed. Find new friends if you move to a new town.
The best way to figure out which is the correct answer when deciding is to use your gut. If you make the wrong decision, which you certainly will at some point, admit it quickly and change course.
We get stuck making decisions because there isn’t a right answer most of the time, at least not right now.
To solve this problem, you need to make your decisions reversible so that you can walk back when you guess wrong.
When you quit your job to become an entrepreneur, don’t do it by taking a crap on your boss’s desk. Neither figuratively and definitely not literally.
You may want to come back to this or find another boss who you don’t want to have seen your viral quitting video.
When you start a new business or add a new product, don’t invest every last penny so that you cannot afford to learn from your decisions.
Make your decisions faster and make them reversible.
Timing is everything
Successful Entrepreneurs don’t have any more time in their day than you or I. They simply know how to use it better.
From our digestion to our heart rate, all the processes in our body follow a daily rhythm. As a result, we perform better depending on the time of the day.
You might find that you have a better workout in the afternoon rather than in the morning. You feel hungry and sleepy at specific times of the day.
We all have our rhythm. Successful entrepreneurs understand their rhythms and know which times they are best for focusing and which times are best for resting.
You need to find your own golden hours of where your mental focus is at its highest. The brain is a muscle just like any other, and even a football superstar can’t spend his entire day working out.
He will spend an hour or so before he’ll start doing more damage than good. In the same way, we can only truly focus for a few hours a day.
Cal Newport, a Georgetown professor and author of Deep Work, explains that “In order to produce the absolute best stuff you’re capable of, you need to commit to deep work.”
He described Deep Work as “Activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limits.”
When you are in your low focused state, try finishing up your tedious tasks so that when it’s time to focus, you can have your mind free of distractions and chores.
Understand your body and take the time to note down what works for you. Then, experiment with different schedules to see how it affects your concentration.
Less is more
Steve Jobs said it best when he explained that:
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”
We constantly feel obligated to say yes. When someone asked us to help, or we feel obliged to respond to an email. Someone can write a single question in 30 seconds with an email that can create hours of work for you.
We have to learn to do less if we want to get more done. We have to take fewer calls, minimise social media and switch off all those notifications.
We also need to spend time consciously doing nothing. When was the last time you truly did nothing? I mean not scrolling social media, not listening to a podcast or watching a movie or reading a book. I mean absolutely nothing.
There is a reason that our best ideas come to us in the shower, and that’s because it’s the only place we are usually alone doing nothing.
We used to get good ideas sitting on the toilet before Instagram and Candy Crush invaded those few moments where our minds would wander.
If you want to come up with something great you have to find the time to do nothing.
Stop doing things you don’t enjoy
You probably don’t enjoy doing many things that you could get other people to do for you. For example, you don’t like standing in queues or doing admin like setting up appointments.
Thankfully, someone down the road or across the world is willing to do it for you. If you only have a few productive hours in a day, why waste them doing things that can be outsourced.
Outsourcing used to be something that corporates or executives did, but the internet made it possible for all of us to outsource everything.
You can get a virtual assistant from halfway across the world, the kid down the road to mow your lawn and someone on an app to drive you to work.
We also often feel obligated to finish what we start. It seems logical that it is most productive to get things done and finished.
Perhaps you started a book hoping to learn how to be more productive. However, after you got through 100 of the 300 pages, you might realise that the book is repetitive and boring.
Forcing yourself to finish will increase your pain, add little to no value and take even longer to read than if it was interesting. The solution is to not finish what you started.
You might find the same thing with lots of business ideas, diets and exercise routines.
If the goal is to get smarter or fitter and that book or workout program is not working, stop doing it. Instead, try another way of reaching your goal that you enjoy.
Sharpen your sword
There is a reason that talented people can make decisions faster and are more focused when they in the zone.
They take the time to sharpen their swords.
“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe.” Abraham Lincoln.
You have to do the things to put you in the best physical and mental shape to perform at those critical moments.
Warren Buffett says, “I just sit in my office and read all day.” He does this so that he can make so-called “gut” decisions on investments. He has read about so much that he can spot an opportunity in a moment.
Tom Brady and Cristiano Ronaldo can make split-second decisions on the field because they spent so much time studying and training. They can make the pass when it counts because they can see multiple moves ahead.
Reading to improve your knowledge, meditating to enhance your concentration, exercising and eating right to improve your health are things you can do to sharpen your sword.
Though one of the easiest ways to get the most out of your day is to simply get enough sleep.
You are your most valuable tool, so make sure you sharpen it every day.