One of the main challenges of being an entrepreneur is getting things done. The list of tasks is huge and the width of the scope of tasks even larger. It is a daily struggle for any aspiring entrepreneur to determine what you should spend your time on. And believe me, I get it — you have an ungodly amount of work on your plate that you need to get done. Between all the open Trello tasks, emails, iMessages and constantly being on the phone, it is hard to <take the time> to sort it all and create a bit of structure.
I have tried using a long list of apps and tools to prioritize my workload and create a bit of structure. But at the end of the day, the only thing that really helped me to get stuff done, was to involve others in my daily work. Even if they were not part of my team, I learned that the biggest bottleneck to getting things done, is probably you.
Let me take you through a number of fixes that help me simply “get things done” every day:
1st Fix: Prioritize your tasks by visibility
I have started to prioritize my tasks by visibility. There are only so many hours in a day. Go figure that you cannot get everything done in one go. I think that this is the most efficient way to create an output that is appreciated by your potential customers, investors and peers. They want to see that you are moving forward. So you need to give them something to “look at”.
This does not mean that I spend my whole day tweaking graphics and making design changes to my digital project (website or apps). More importantly, I just made sure that whatever I did, had some sort of visible output for at least one of the other stakeholders that I would like to get on board. Because as an entrepreneur, getting others on board is your main and the only truly scalable goal you have.
Therefore I always start working on my tasks with a clear output in mind. Something that will help the project, something that I will have learned and something that will interest my stakeholders. I jot these three things down on a piece of paper before I start working on my tasks every time. It really helps me actually getting it done and to keep my focus.
2nd Fix: Focus on finishing tasks, not projects
One of the main problems I used to make when I started out as an entrepreneur was that I did not understand the real difference between projects and tasks.
Projects are long term goals that you want to finish — creating a new Corporate Identity for your brand is a project, not a task. Creating a logo for your CI is a task, picking the right colors for your CI is a task. These are things that you are able to get done within a (few) day(s). I like to break down my top most important tasks into 3–4 hour slots. I try to keep the amount of workt that I need to do to a minimum and focus on getting results within just a few hours.
This means that, at the beginning of the week, I plan my projects ahead and break down the project goals that I have defined into smaller segments of manageable tasks (3–4 hours worth or work at a time). Then I sort them by visibility and bottlenecks; which tasks do I need to take care of so that others can continue to work without my input. I always take care of the bottleneck tasks first and then deal with the most visible tasks second. This way I know that I always manage to deal with at least two blocks of topics per day.
Again, this is about focus — getting things done for me is really all about focus. Even if I get 10 calls per day and I have a lot of emails that come in, I make sure that I finish my two tasks per day. Nothing more, nothing less. If I can do more, I focus my attention on documenting what I have done so that I can pass on my learnings — inspire others — get more help. I am only as good as the team that I have around me and I need to continue to nourish all stakeholders so that I can continue to grow, as a person and an entrepreneur.
3rd Fix: Get others to help you out
This is by far the most difficult, but probably the most important fix that you can get. Even if you cannot pay others to help you (just yet), you need to dazzle them with your enthusiasm, your ideas and the visible outputs that you have created so far.
Asking for help does not come natural to everyone, but it is essential to getting things done. You need to realize that you can only gain as much traction as you can create output. Even if you are a great hustler and you work three times as much as everyone else, your output is still limited.
So at the end of the day, you will want to try and get as much support and help as you can. This might not be easy, because there are a lot of hurdles (personal and monetary) that will be standing in your way. However you need to continue to try and convince others of your ideas, show them what you have done and speak about your long term goals… a lot.
Getting other out of their comfort zones
If you want to get things done, you need to try and get everyone around you out of their comfort zone.
One thing that I found to work best, is that I always try to give my counterparts a clear view of my long term goal. This fuels their enthusiasm, possibly scepticism, but definitely their creativity as well. I need to share my thoughts, I need to stay true to myself and authentic. There is nothing more envigorating than sharing success with others.
Speak about your vision and ideas a lot, not just about your list of challenges and tasks
What is important though is that you are specific in what you want and what you have come up with so far. Picking someone else’s brain can really help you focus on the right long term outcome, but I try to form my own opinion at all times before asking others for theirs.
You don’t need to become an expert on every single subject, but simply try to put yourself in your conversation-partners shoes for a few minutes. A ten to twenty minute self brainstorm can bring you so much and show you partner that you have not just unloaded your problem on them. You’ll want to show that you want to solve the issue together and whenever you get some good feedback, you are able to really get the conversation going.
PS: One last bonus tip: Don’t be afraid to turn off your phone from time to time. If you make sure that you keep your deadlines and communicate clearly about your deliverables, there are only so many things that can be truly that important and need your instant attention. If you want to get things done, it’s more than okay to be a little selfish that way some times. 🙂
I hope you have enjoyed this read. This article focusses more on the journey, than on the tools. I would very much love to hear what you do to get things done.
Have a great day, Remco
Exported from Medium on January 23, 2018.