What is the best productivity hack for entrepreneurs? Whether it’s through physiology, meditation, communications systems or management, all entrepreneurs are looking to improve ourselves and gain an edge over the competition. But the best productivity hack for entrepreneurs isn’t the latest calendar app or email sorting protocol. It’s not hiring a virtual assistant or purchasing a product management software. These can all be good tactics, but they overlook the simple, effective and I say the best productivity hack for entrepreneurs: offloading where you’re uncomfortable.
Years ago I recognized this was a recurring problem that entrepreneurs (almost universally) were struggling to overcome. They had never been trained to identify areas in which they were uncomfortable, how to communicate this to others and look for solutions to offload them. Worse yet, there was no structure or planning system to help facilitate this.
As a consultant to entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses and even the Fortune 500, I worked with client after client with a related issue: They were overwhelmed with daily activities because they didn’t know if they were moving in the right direction. They couldn’t separate from the tasks that were making them uncomfortable to focus on the ones that were of greatest value. And I realized that most of the time, this was because they were either using a planning system that was failing them, or not using a planning system at all.
Your Planner is Not a Productivity Hack
The majority of entrepreneurs I’ve met – myself included – don’t operate well with traditional day planners or calendars. These systems tend to cause constraint for people with our personality type: the Entrepreneurial Personality Type (EPT).
We’re not like most people. People like us avoid 9-to-5 jobs because sticking to someone else’s schedule and objectives makes us uncomfortable. We want greater control over our futures and careers. We need the freedom to pursue our greatest possible contribution. However, as future-focused individuals, we also tend to get sidetracked. Our attention is pulled in a million different directions on a daily basis and it’s easy to get lost in the weeds.
Calendars and to-do lists are only designed to keep track of what’s taking place on a given day or time period. But for entrepreneurs, it’s equally important to know that those daily tasks are moving us toward our larger goals. Because – and here’s the fundamental point – if the definition of productivity is the actions taken toward achieving a goal, then in order to be productive, you have to make sure your daily tasks are directly connected to your goals.
So the question quickly becomes: What’s the best productivity hack for entrepreneurs? How can we get the most out of every day, drive toward our goals and approach our daily activities with as much intention as possible?
For me, the solution is answering one simple question every day…
The Best Productivity Hack for Entrepreneurs
Ask yourself every morning: Where was I uncomfortable yesterday?
It’s really common sense. Identifying what makes us uncomfortable and removing those things from our days is a good thing for us as entrepreneurs. It helps us feel better about our days, improves our attitudes and outlook, and even drives us to do more with our time.
Yet surprisingly there isn’t a single system out there that teaches people to do this. Most of us just get used to having a bad day and living with it. But it shouldn’t be this way, and I’ve discovered a simple solution.
The best productivity hack for entrepreneurs is to ask yourself every morning: “Where was I uncomfortable yesterday?” This helps you look back at the day before and pinpoint the moments that didn’t go the way you wanted or expected them to go.
When you write these items down every day, a few different things happen:
You offload negative feelings and get the problem off your chest; it literally stops holding you back or slowing you down. You get the problems down on paper so you can clarify and fully understand what’s wrong or missing. You give yourself the opportunity to plan on how to prevent that discomfort from happening again; this is what I call “offloading what makes you uncomfortable.”
This practice also allows you to actually monitor the progress you’re making. By doing this every day, you’ll get to see the point where you stopped writing down that area of discomfort and it’ll give you confidence that these types of challenges can be overcome. It’ll also allow you to understand yourself better so that you can create the momentum you need to be productive and succeed.
In speaking with my clients, this simple question is already changing people’s lives and those who’ve been frustrated with other productivity hacks or planning methods. They’re finally finding a way to gain perspective and start moving toward their overall vision, what they want to do with their lives and businesses. They’re no longer putting up with the areas that have made them uncomfortable, which allows them to perform at a higher level than they previously thought possible.
So ask yourself: Are you living up to your full potential? Are you putting in the effort necessary to improve yourself and your business?
If the answer is no, or you feel like there’s room for improvement, start asking yourself: Where was I uncomfortable yesterday?
The Best Planning System for Entrepreneurs
But with full transparency, that question is only part of the process.
I’ve spoken with thousands of entrepreneurs, and when I ask them to describe the most momentum-filled periods of their lives they often have similar responses: starting a business, getting married, college, training for a marathon, competing in a sport or learning some new skill.
All of these refer to a period of time in someone’s life where the desired outcome was clear and there was a “scoreboard” with which they could track progress. But it’s important to understand that when it comes to personal growth and progress toward our own individual goals, we have to create our own scoreboard. We have to ensure that we’re moving in the right direction and improving.
And that’s an underlying purpose of my Momentum-Based Planning system, which as a whole is much greater than any one productivity hack. I want all entrepreneurs to have a clear, repeatable process to making each one of their days as intentional and productive as possible. I want users of my system to grow and move forward so that they can get as much fulfillment as possible out of every day.
To learn more about this process, check out Momentum-Based Planning and start offloading where you’re uncomfortable to move forward with confidence.
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