Freelancers and entrepreneurs often struggle with unfinished to-do lists, and work days that run way too late. Moving tasks to the side is rarely an option, especially if you are just starting out. Things have to be done.
To avoid burn out, we at Moonlighting recommend that you rethink the way you are used to handling tasks. When tackling a project, don’t think about how quickly you can have it done. Instead, try to work as efficiently as possible.
We asked entrepreneurs for their best tips for being efficient while busy. Here are the 7 best hacks that can help you do just that.
1. Prioritize your tasks
“Find a system to prioritize your tasks. When you’ve got something to add to your to-do list, don’t wait. Assign it a priority according to your system. Then, tackle each action item according to that priority. Many people use the four quadrants of time management. Here, tasks are labeled as urgent and important, urgent but not important, important but not urgent, and not urgent or important.” — Brad Sadek, CEO of Sadek & Cooper.
2. Block communication to focus
“Communication is important. It’s also a huge disruptor. One thing that freelancers and entrepreneurs should consider is setting up “airplane times” — an hour or two when all the notifications are switched off and you stay fully focused on the task at hand. There’s a lot that you can accomplish in a couple of uninterrupted hours.” — Michael Gall, CEO of Internet Business Solutions, Inc.
3. Take the train
“The average commute is just over 26 minutes one way. That’s 52 minutes a day. In New York and Washington DC, it’s quite a bit longer. If you drive, there’s nothing you can do in that time. But, if you take the bus, subway, train, or Uber, that changes. Now you can spend that time catching up on emails, making your to-do list, or reading.” — Lee Whitbread, CEO of MoneyPug.
4. Solve the problems you can solve right now
“Progress doesn’t only happen when you tackle the big jobs. It happens when you chip away at things by taking care of the things you can, right now. Choose your outfit, pack your lunch, and make out your to do list the night before. You’ll start your day out ahead of schedule. This also means breaking large tasks into chunks, and working on them a bit at a time. It also means recognizing when completing a task isn’t possible at the moment, and moving on to something that is.” — Simon Grunfeld, CEO of Ibinex.
5. Enforce a 15-minute meeting rule
“When meetings go long, it’s usually for two reasons. People have gone off topic and are just chatting, or there was enough material to justify two meetings. The latter can happen when new information presents itself. Long meetings are frustrating. People get bored and cranky. They start focusing on getting out of there rather than solving problems. Keep meetings to 15 minutes or so, and they’ll be much more productive.” — Santiago Zabala, CEO of Shapermint.
6. Re-energize in the afternoon
“The morning cup of coffee is almost sacred among freelancers and entrepreneurs. However, if you check your energy levels, you might find that your energy really lags in the afternoon. Consider adding a cup of coffee after lunch or take a brisk walk or take a power nap. That could give you the energy you need to be efficient and productive the rest of the day.” — Michael Franco, CEO of Zee Snoring.
7. Ruthlessly delete and unsubscribe
“Even if you scroll past and swipe into your delete folder, useless emails and social media posts are a waste of your time. Stop dealing with these on a daily basis. Instead, take an hour to unfollow, delete, and unsubscribe. If it’s not a source you care about or that benefits you in some way, get it out of your inbox. You won’t regret it. Going forward, be vigilant about forms that try to auto subscribe you to newsletters and other junk mail.” — Jimmy Rohampton, Founder of HowToCreateABlog.org.
Who doesn’t want to get more done? Apply these 7 hacks to your workday, then see how much your productivity improves.
Are you ready to start your own freelance business or try out a few side gigs to get the feel of freelancing? No matter what path you choose, kick start your freelance business by joining the amazing community of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and gig workers on Moonlighting. Sign up or download the app today — Free!
Originally published at usatoday.com on October 8, 2018.