Stop Trying to Take Things Off Your Plate. The Way to Grow Is to Keep Adding More.

Follow these five tips to improve your productivity, speed and sanity

“Congratulations on choosing to be an entrepreneur -- may your life be filled with success!” is not something you hear when you decide to start your venture. Nope! In fact, what you typically hear is a lot of discouragement from friends, family and even neighbors saying how crazy you are to work for yourself.

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. But, those that understand, learn and adapt will have the success they dream about. Oh, and the part about “sanity” I mentioned above plays a big role in how you expand, how you think through your objectives and you manage your time.

As a marketing and performance coach, entrepreneurs come to me when their business is somewhat steady or has experienced a decline. They want to improve momentum. They want additional clients and added sales.

Related: 5 Habits of Successful People Before 8 a.m.

Unfortunately, they don’t have the mental discipline in place to handle the extra volume. Let me explain: These struggling entrepreneurs call me to help them, so I consult with them. A short time goes by and I get an email or a phone call that sounds like this: “OMG Heather, my sales are exploding, I have so many meetings and prospects now.” Which is usually followed by “I’m too busy now to continue our coaching.” So they try to cancel or postpone until they get a better handle on things and clear their plate. Not the correct thing to do! 

If I may, let me share with you a little insight on how some entrepreneurs think.

Imagine two business owners are having coffee, and one says to the other, “I’m so overwhelmed with new business.” The other replies, “You’re too stressed. Take some things off your plate.” Now I want you to imagine two other business owners meeting for a beer after a grueling day, and one turns to the other and says, “I’m slammed, new clients are ringing me daily!” And the other responds, “That’s great -- maybe it’s time to hire some assistants to do all the little work.”

Related: 3 Ways Staying on the Offensive Improves Productivity

Two different mentalities. One says to take things off your plate while the other is suggesting ways to leverage time. Which entrepreneur, in your opinion, is going to have a larger business with growing revenue in one year?

If you said the entrepreneur who chooses to keep expanding, keep the momentum and begins to leverage her time, you’d be correct. You see the more you add and manage, the better you expand as a business owner. It’s not just about delegation. It’s more than that. It’s about expanding your systems, getting rid of the time vampires and setting up systems that allow you to make sound decisions based on facts and data.

So, instead of taking things off your plate, we add to it. I know it sounds counterproductive, but adding to your plate gives you the opportunity to keep up with the momentum and upgrade how you live your day to day life. So how do you bring it all together? Well, if you want to be a better entrepreneur then implement these five tips to control your sanity while making better entrepreneurial decisions: 

1. Tame the interruptions.

Research shows the average manager is interrupted approximately every eight minutes, which, can cost us up to 6.1 hours of work per day. So to avoid these interruptions it’s recommended that you don’t answer the phone and you schedule time to check and reply to emails, texts and social media. That’s right, turn the phone off. Let the voicemail do its job. Call people back on your time. And, if you don’t learn to control when you respond to emails, texts and social media, your productivity will go out the window. 

Related: This One Habit Makes You the Most Productive Entrepreneur

2. Understand the dark side of instant communication.

Sure, sending messages through your mobile device or even tablet sounds great, but again it robs you of your precious time. And time equals money. So although iMessage, WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook chat seem like fast ways to send messages, those little messages add up over time and steal your thunder to stay on task.

3. Become a trainer.

As an entrepreneur, you have a certain way of doing things, yet you find employees and vendors don’t always accommodate your rules. Hey, it’s your baby -- so why are you letting others challenge your rules? You’re the proverbial king or queen, so you need to instruct the minions how to follow you, not the other way around. Your time is precious, so as the ruler, you communicate when you’re available and when you’re not.  

Related: The Best Ways to Use Breaks to Be More Productive (Infographic)

4. Fight to link everything to a goal.

The sad part is most entrepreneurs don’t understand what their goals are, so they go about their day thinking the busy stuff they’re working on is getting them somewhere. If they linked their productivity to an end goal they would accomplish so much more in a day. But how? Blocking time for certain tasks is a great way to start. Scheduling your calendar so you know what is required and when and understanding what your goals will make your time more profitable.

5. Be punctual.

A person reveals a great deal about himself with his punctuality or lack of it. Being on time shows respect and authority. Yeah, it’s a big deal! Yet, it’s dying art. So, if you tell someone you will meet at a certain time -- be there at that time. No excuses. Just be on time! 

Whether you’re a business owner with employees or a solo entrepreneur, I urge you to expand, to grow and to take on big things. Make sure you are personally upgrading your life, your systems and your mindset. And if someone says to you that you should reduce what’s on your plate, just look at them and say, “I’m an entrepreneur, make the plate fuller!”

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