By Nikki Carlson, co-founder/co-president of ChicExecs Retail and Strategy Firm. She has over 21 years experience in PR/marketing.
Whether it’s an astounding 4 a.m. wake-up time or only checking email once a week, every entrepreneur has their quirks. Fortunately, you don’t need to wake up before dawn to build a healthy, successful business as an entrepreneur: You just need good habits.
Healthy habits help your mind and body perform at a higher level. When you make a habit part of your routine, you’ll automatically stick with it for the long term.
No matter their industry or business size, most successful entrepreneurs have three consistent habits that set them up for success. Implement these healthy habits in your own life to make better business decisions, live a more complete life and run a more successful business.
1. Focus on the highest-value tasks.
Productivity hacks like “eating the elephant” are helpful, but sometimes you don’t need to spend your time tackling big projects. If anything, you need to focus on the most valuable tasks.
Time is the most valuable resource for any entrepreneur. If you spend all of your time on non-urgent tasks, are your efforts really serving you?
Successful leaders spend their time on tasks that bring in the most returns. That means you need to put your time and effort into tasks that have a clear impact on your business.
You can start focusing on higher-value tasks by:
• Identifying them first: Track how you spend your time for two weeks. Which tasks should have been delegated or tabled? What is the most valuable thing you can do each day? The tasks that you want to spend more time on are your high-value tasks. This might be networking or pitching to investors.
• Monitoring them: Project management apps like Trello or Asana will help you stay on task with your daily to-do list. If someone assigns you a low-value task, your management system can allow you to reschedule or reassign it to another team member.
• Outsourcing: Make sure someone in your organization is still handling low-value tasks! Just because something isn’t your focus doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Outsource tasks like email management, scheduling meetings and creating social posts to keep the business moving.
Don’t sweat it if you don’t get to some items on your to-do list. Entrepreneurship is all about flexibility and focusing on what matters most. As long as you’re tackling high-value tasks first, you’ll be successful.
2. Wake up early.
Scientists have found that people who wake up early tend to be less stressed and depressed. That’s great for you on a personal level, but an early wake-up time can benefit you professionally, too.
Morning people tend to have more energy, which means they’re sharp enough to make good decisions all day. Waking up early also gives you extra time to check email and organize your schedule before the day begins.
If you’re a night person but want to become a morning person, you can make the transition by:
• Going to bed early: You still need to get your seven to eight hours of sleep, and that means going to bed earlier. Be sure you snooze your phone’s notifications or put it on Do Not Disturb. If you’re guilty of checking your phone in the middle of the night, relocate it to a dresser across the room.
• Creating a sleep-friendly space: Blackout curtains or a sleep mask are great for darkening your room. Headphones or a white noise machine will help drown out any background noise so you can fall asleep faster, too.
• Doing it gradually: Don’t suddenly start waking up at 5 a.m. if you normally wake up at 7 a.m. Try waking up earlier in 15-minute increments so it’s a more gradual process.
3. Remember why you started.
Short-term focus might get you through the week, but will it be enough five years from now? You don’t want to wake up to a business in turmoil; you need to have a vision for the future.
Why did you start your business? Are your mission, purpose or values in alignment with how you operate today? How can you change your business to serve your mission? How will you measure that?
You can maintain long-term focus on your mission and purpose by:
• Setting goals: But not just any goals. Write tangible, quantifiable SMART goals. Track your progress in a project tracking app so you can stay accountable.
• Scheduling deep work: It’s hard visioning for the future when you’re overwhelmed with daily to-dos. Set aside time on your calendar to focus on your goals and deep work. Whether it’s a Monday morning or Friday afternoon, regularly scheduled sessions are a must.
• Creating an accountability team: Accountability is the best way to achieve your long-term goals. Whether it’s your employees, leadership team or a mentor, ask others to hold you accountable for your big vision.
Oh, and don’t forget to celebrate when you reach your milestones and goals!
The Bottom Line
Habits are actions you do consistently every day. Over time, they become the basis of who you are as an entrepreneur. You can’t try habits as a one-time thing. Integrate these three healthy habits into your routine to commit to your success. Entrepreneurs need resilience and strength, and healthy habits will become the supportive foundation for your success.