The universal challenge of every startup founder is to get everything done that needs to get done and to still have a life. Even outside of business, everyone wants to accomplish more while working less. Some time ago I saw a great summary that seems to pull all the key principles together.
Steven Robbins, known on the Internet as the Get-It-Done Guy, outlines his strategies in his classic book “9 Steps to Work Less and Do More.” These steps are not aimed specifically at entrepreneurs, but I see how they can be applied to entrepreneurship as follows:
- Do what you know and enjoy. Figure out what’s really important to you as an entrepreneur. For most, it’s following a passion to show customers your better solution. Live your lifestyle, do what you love and identify your top priorities. Then you will get things done, and it won’t even seem like work.
- Stop procrastinating. Procrastination is a killer when it comes to being effective. One of the best ways to stop procrastinating is to break things down into small chunks and use tiny steps to move forward. Break time into pieces. When there’s an end in sight, it’s a lot easier to get down to business.
- Conquer the technology you need. Cellphones, laptops and other electronic devices are supposed to give users additional freedom, but far too often, they create time traps. Separate yourself from technology regularly to not allow a machine’s interruptions set your day’s agenda.
- Maintain your focus. You need to set boundaries and say “no,” to stop multitasking and to find ways to group similar tasks or similar contents. Don’t forget to delegate to other team members, and don’t be tempted by the current “crisis” to postpone the important tasks of making strategy decisions and monitoring the progress of the business.
- Stay organized. Many people confuse ‘organized’ with ‘neat.’ In fact, ‘organized’ means there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place. When you stumble over something that doesn’t have a place, either throw it away or make a place for it. If you don’t have any more room, throw something away. Don’t rent a storage unit.
- Stop wasting time. Work is whatever you need to do that most matches your business goals as they are today. Use the to pick and then complete those tasks. Stop trying to do things perfectly. “Good enough” is the antidote to perfectionism. Make faster decisions by limiting the options you consider.
- Optimize your efforts on every task. Stop doing what isn’t working and make time to optimize the rest of what you do. Some of the best ways to optimize include using team feedback to identify blind spots that could be limiting effectiveness, recognizing when it’s time to call in an expert to get the job done and listening to your own advice.
- Build stronger relationships. Build a network of contacts to allow you to harness the power of others’ strengths. Superficial relationships don’t help. Giving is the best and quickest way to strengthen a relationship. Conflict takes energy to sustain, so work to prevent conflicts from arising and to end conflicts that do arise quickly.
- Leverage technology. Use technology thoughtfully to automate things that take a lot of time, thus gaining leverage. Reuse things rather than re-invent them. The most valuable computer function in business is “cut and paste.” These days on the Internet you can find samples of every document and contract you will ever need, so use them.
With each of these steps, you will reclaim more control of your business and your life. You will find yourself honing in on the things that actually move the startup forward and make you happy and learning the skills you need to resist the rest. You, too, can be a get-it-done guy.
Image credit: CC by Mufidah Kassalias