Entrepreneur Beginners Guide
“Do What’s Most Important First”
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
—Stephen Covey, best-selling author, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
When I began learning how to play golf a few years ago, it was much harder than I thought it would be. Of all the different mental and physical things needed to execute a good swing, I had the most difficulty keeping my head down through the swing. I almost al-ways lifted my head before making contact with the ball and there-fore took a bad swing. Sometimes I missed the ball altogether. It was so challenging because keeping my head down felt so unnatural. It was completely counterintuitive.
Likewise, doing the tasks that are most important in business is counterintuitive. Normally, these crucial tasks demand more time, energy, and focus than we care to give. Thus, we avoid them, doing those simpler tasks that really don’t have a major impact on our business. Like a novice golfer who struggles with the basics, many entrepreneurs’ can’t seem to master the habit of doing what’s most valuable for their business. This basic discipline is the key to continued success as an entrepreneur.
If you are like most entrepreneurs, the lure of crossing some-thing off your task list is too great to pass up. As you bask in the happiness of having crossed off another menial task, the more important tasks are pushed further down your to-do list and often for-gotten. It’s ironic how the most important items keep getting put off and therefore become, in reality, a low priority. We fool ourselves into believing that we are actually making significant progress by doing several little things.
On the contrary, veteran and smart entrepreneurs give priority to those tasks that are painful but which pay off in the end. They have the ability to ignore the fleeting satisfaction that may come from finishing small tasks. As a result, they seem to have the unique ability to accomplish so much more in a smaller time span. They don’t have superpowers. Instead, they have super priorities and habits that make it easier to do what’s most important.
A few simple tips can help you focus on the most important tasks that will take your business to new heights.
- Do important tasks first thing in the morning when you get up. This is perhaps the most useful habit that has helped me become much more efficient. If I am working on a book, writing music, doing research, or producing computer code, my mind is freshest in the morning. Also, with fewer distractions in the morning, your focus is at its best.
- Change your environment. Sometimes all you need to boost your productivity is a change in environment. If you work at home, steal away to a small park, or if you are in an office, go to a cafe. It’s amazing how something so simple can improve your output. Some environments may subconsciously cause you to have more anxiety or stress than others. Identify and avoid them. Who knows? When you change your surroundings, maybe you’ll receive an in-fusion of creativity like never before. It has happened to me.
- Disconnect from the real world. Don’t check your e-mail before or during work. Turn off the television and telephone. These interrupters cloud your focus. Research has shown that multitasking negatively affects your productivity. Also, the brain is most effective when it focuses on doing one thing.
- Take substantive breaks. Do something that takes your mind completely off the task at hand. For example, I like to .go for a run, go get the mail, or dance. Moving around helps me rejuvenate and gets my blood flowing. Whatever you do, don’t take a break by staying at your desk or by staying in the same room where you work. Definitely change your scenery, and if you can, do a physical activity for at least five minutes’. Now that I have learned to keep my head down through my swing, my golf game has improved considerably. In fact, what was
once uncomfortable and unnatural has become second-nature, Similarly, if you follow the preceding tips, your business game will improve, too. You will start to accomplish a lot more, and doing what’s most important will be automatic.