Entrepreneurs share many characteristics: motivation, determination, creativity, and the list goes on. However, one characteristic that not many people attribute to entrepreneurs is laziness!
Some entrepreneurs don’t set out to become the next Mark Cuban: Billionaire. In fact, some decide to go into business for themselves because they want to find a way to work less for increased financial gain.
Under this scenario, laziness actually breeds innovation because in their quest for simplification, people often learn how to be more efficient. As you may have already guessed, this is the category into which I fall.
Having worked my fingers to the metaphorical bone as a secondary school teacher for 7 years, I became weary of constantly being too busy or too exhausted to have a life outside of work. Most of my friends’ jobs entitle them to either a lot of vacation time (which they are typically too broke to fully enjoy), or copious amounts of money (but not enough vacation time to actually utilize their funds in ways that improve their basic quality of life).
My goal is simple: to make approximately the same salary I was previously making, while actually taking the time to enjoy life on a regular basis.
Everyone romanticizes entrepreneurial endeavors; there’s plenty of “just do it”, and “if you dream it, you can achieve it”; But it’s easier said than done.
Here’s what I’ve learned on my journey: Sleeping in is easy; social media can steal your soul, and family and friends will chip away at your time until you begin to resent them for it. Follow these tips to avoid those traps!
1. Always plan something in the morning that you have to wake up for
This doesn’t have to be a suit and tie meeting, or even a hair appointment. It can be something as simple as: “Put the pot roast in the crock pot at 8:00”. Whatever it is, just make sure that you stick to it.
Spring out of bed, complete your established task, and then begin to tackle your work agenda. It is way too easy to sleep in and lose valuable hours of productivity unless you commit yourself to a plan.
2. Use a timer to keep email and social media use in check
As a business person, you understand the importance of maintaining strong online presence, but the simple act of posting to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Linkedin can suck up hours of time. And that’s not even including the constant barrage of emails pinging into your inbox.
To avoid the internet time vortex, only allow yourself to check emails and other media at designated times. Turn off the notifications that pop up on your screen, and simply make a point of checking messages every 30 minutes (or whichever period of time works for you).
This is in keeping with Stephen Covey’s “Time Management Matrix”, in which he describes how you need to be able to assess the difference between important and unimportant tasks, and between tasks which are urgent or not urgent.
Unless you are waiting on a crucial deal, it’s unlikely that there are any emails or notifications that cannot wait 30 minutes to be dealt with. Avoid setting a precedent for instant replies so that you don’t create unnecessary pressures on yourself.
3. Learn to say no
This is especially important if you have a home office because friends and family have trouble understanding that just because you are not “at work” does not mean that you’re not doing something important. In their minds, you are an easy target for requests to drive them to the airport, hang around waiting for the cable guy, or babysit their kids when the nanny calls in sick.
Of course, a perk of entrepreneurship is the fact that you can be more flexible, and ideally help others. But that doesn’t mean you have to.
Even if you could put off the work that you’re doing to bring Cindy to her hair appointment, it doesn’t mean that you have to. Time during your usual work day that is spent on anything unrelated to improving your bottom line will invariably affect you. Help when you can, but learn to assertively decline.
Each person will endure their own trials and errors, but as long as you learn to identify your own pitfalls and find constructive ways to deal with them, you’ll be glad you took the leap.
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