How Busy Entrepreneurs Deal With Mundane Tasks
Is there a way to conquer the mountain of minutiae, while still saving your best time for the really important stuff? The answer: Definitely.
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As exciting as the entrepreneur's life is, you have to deal with mundane tasks. Mundane tasks are repetitive, boring, unproductive and yet necessary.
What do busy entrepreneurs do about these mundane tasks? Is there a way to conquer the mountain of minutiae, while still saving your best time for the really important stuff? Here are the entrepreneur's secrets to dealing with mundane tasks:
They avoid them.
Avoidance? Is this appropriate? In some cases, yes. Let's consider Mundane Public Enemy Number One: The daily commute.
Question: Why do so many busy people have sleeping bags in their office?
Answer: So they can work as late as they want and avoid that time-draining hassle of getting in the car and going somewhere.
Why should you have to bother with such a hassle? Instead of settling for a daily commute, go for a twice-weekly commute. Stack all your meetings on one or two days, and work remote the rest of the time.
Let's consider another mundane task, such as selecting your wardrobe for the day. Take a page from the president's playbook. He eliminates the time-wasting decision of what to wear by buying a few sets of clothes that he can easily pull off the rack and put on.
If you can avoid a mundane task, do it. Entrepreneurs streamline their lives so they can focus on one thing only.
They don't say yes to anything they cannot or should not do.
An entrepreneur knows what's important and what's not. That's why he or she can say yes to all the right things.
The more things you say "yes" to, the more you'll clutter your calendar with the detritus of a wasted day.
They do the right stuff at the right time.
Being productive is more about energy management than it is about time management.
When your creative energy is at its peak, it might take you 40 minutes to write an article, whereas when your energy is low, the same task might take two hours. Do your most productive work when you have the greatest amount of energy. Then use your low-energy slump to plow through the mundane stuff. This approach is called chunking. If you consign the mundane tasks to a few hours, say on a weekend morning, then you'll be able to fly through them.
They schedule like a control freak.
The worst kind of mundane task is the interruption. When some gadfly comes knocking around your office and "just wants to chat" you're doomed.
The best approach is to keep your calendar locked up with blocks of time where you get stuff done. These "blocks of time" aren't useless meetings, but rather are portions of your day when you can accomplish significant work.
Just as you schedule your most important work, you should also schedule time to accomplish your mundane tasks.
They outsource them.
A virtual assistant is a great way to eliminate huge amounts of mundanity. Here are just a few of the things that a virtual assistant can do:
- Scheduling appointments
- Managing email
- Making travel arrangements
- Organizing files in Dropbox or Google Drive
- Preparing presentations
- Posting positions on Craigslist
- Running personal errands like buying gifts online or scheduling car cleaning
- Answering or screening phone calls
- Managing your social media
- Researching for articles
- Editing email
They automate them.
Do you still write a check and mail it to your landlord? You're wasting your time. Most of the repetitive tasks in your life can be automated.
- Paying rent or mortgage: Call your lending agency or landlord and schedule automatic online withdrawals.
- Buying necessities like toiletries: Have them shipped to you on a schedule using a service like Manpacks or LeParcel or Amazon's Subscribe & Save
- Taking your car in for maintenance and service: Contact your mechanic for scheduled on-site tune-ups and oil changes.
- Cleaning your house: Hire a cleaning service to come on a regular basis and tidy things up.
- Buying groceries and finding recipes: Get food or snacks mailed to your doorstep. There are probably some businesses that serve your area such as Hello Fresh, NatureBox, Munchpak, The FareTrade or Nibblr.
For some of these automated services, you might pay a premium. Consider it as a business expense. Will automating these mundane tasks help you make your business more profitable?
They do them on the weekend.
Entrepreneurs don't waste weekends. You already knew that. But what do you use your weekends for? I suggest doing mundane stuff on the weekends. Your brain probably needs a break from work-as-usual, anyway. Use these hours to work through the mundane task list.
They hire the right people.
Getting stuff done, as David Allen has taught us, means that you will delegate.
If you hire the right people, then those people will help you get your mundane tasks done. There are countless times when I send an email to one of my colleagues asking, "Can you please handle this for me?"
It's done. I trust him. It's over.
There are some people who absolutely love doing the stuff you hate to do. If you hire these people, both of you will be happy.
They don't ignore them.
Mundane tasks are necessary. Don't neglect them. When you let mundane tasks pile up, you'll drag yourself down. The pileup of little stuff will begin to hamper your productivity. Before you know it, you have a dangerous bottleneck that will adversely affect your work performance.
Entrepreneurs are skilled at approaching an issue and dealing with it. You're busy, and you have a ton of stuff to do -- mundane tasks included. Treat these mundane tasks like you would handle a business challenge. Nail them, then go on to do more awesome stuff.Related: 6 Secrets to Being More Productive Each Day