The adage “work smarter not harder” may seem like an easy limerick to quote when doling out advice, but for entrepreneurs—both established and aspiring—it must be a rule of life. In a time when self-starters are now inundated with opportunities, it can be overwhelming, and adhering to the age-old advice is even more important if for no other reason than sanity.
To maximize your time, and therefore your profits, it’s important to remember three rules; make peace with a pace, set priorities, and choose quality over volume. Together these three rules can create an environment in which you can thrive, but first, you need to understand them individually.
1. Make Peace with the Pace That Works For You
That to-do list may get shorter for a period of time, but as long as business is good, it’s going to continue to have tasks added. That’s a blessing, but it can also be daunting.
The key to tackling it is breaking it down (more on that below) and taking it on at a pace you’re comfortable with because it’s better to do something right than to have to do it twice. Moving too fast can cause you to miss things or fumble over what should be a simple task. Moving too slowly can mean you’re not maximizing your time and therefore losing out on profits.
Find a middle ground that works for you. This may change from task to task as well, as you find some areas of your work are easier to get through while others take more attention to detail. The more experience you get under your belt, the better idea you’ll have of how much time you need to devote towards each assignment, allowing you to establish the pace that best works for you.
The items on your to-do list do not matter as much as your feeling of peace and accomplishment each day. As long as you are moving at a happy, steady pace and consistently moving forward, then you are making progress.
2. Whether You’re Firm or Flexible, Priority is the #1 Focus
While getting everything done on your to-do list is important, it’s just as important to get the right things done. Manage your focus each day to accomplish the top priorities. There are two ways to go about this.
- Firm: If you’re someone who works better with strict guidelines then you’ll be most productive with firm priorities. Take that to-do list and break it down by importance, then organize it chronologically by assigning each task the allotted amount of time it deserves (which harkens back to working at the pace you’ve already set) and stick to that schedule. This way you’re giving the most important priorities the time they deserve while not focusing that time on something that isn’t as vital.
- Flexible: Others are much more flexible and fluid and can easily shift when priorities change. If this is your type of personality, then create smaller to-do lists, mapping out the one thing that needs to happen on a given day. You can make sure that task is achieved then as priorities shift, you can easily jump from one to-do list to another without ignoring something important.
3. Choose Quality Over Volume
If you try to get everything done at once, cramming your entire workload into a single day, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Instead, focus on achieving a maximum impact in your workday, which will leave you with higher quality output.
By setting a pace and ranking priorities, you can now look at that to-do list with a critical eye and see which individual tasks you can complete to be most conducive to a successful day. You can then focus on those, thereby making a bigger dent in your lists of goals. This will, in turn, have a domino effect as you can move on to those smaller tasks without distractions.
Every single item on your to-do list is important, as it means your business is growing. But your business can’t continue to grow if you burn out along the way.
So, give those goals the attention they deserve while also giving yourself the respect you deserve. Follow these three rules to maximize your time and maximize your profits, creating a happy, healthier entrepreneur along the way.
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Amanda Goldman-Petri is the founder of Market Like A Nerd and is an internationally renowned “Work Smarter, Not Harder” Online Marketing Coach for entrepreneurs who want to maximize their profits while minimizing the amount of time and effort they put into their business. Amanda has featured on major media outlets such as Fast Company, The Huffington Post, Small Business Trendsetters, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Worth Magazine, International Business Times (and more) for her unique and nerdy approach to marketing. Recently, she was also named one of the Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30 by Influencive.