Time Man resize

Time management expert Jan Yager has just published a new edition of her 2008 book, Work Less, Do More: The 14-Day Productivity Makeover. Entrepreneurs who wish they had more time to focus on essential tasks—and don’t have time to read books—will be pleased to hear that U.S. entrepreneur, author and investor Martin Zwilling has distilled Yager’s work on personal productivity principles down to a handful of points geared to the needs of business owners.

In a recent post at InsideBusiness.com, Zwilling offered “10 Personal Productivity Mantras For Entrepreneurs.” Here are five of them—and one of my own. For the rest, you can read his original post.

  • Don’t try to do everything, or you may accomplish very little. Pareto’s Law says you get 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts. Figure out what deserves your 20%, and focus on that. Start each day with your highest-priority task, and leave distractions like emails and phone calls to the end of the day.
  • Understand and overcome procrastination. Fear of success and fear of failure are at the root of most acts of procrastination. Psychologists assert that procrastinators actually put obstacles in their own path.
  • Aim for excellence, but reject perfectionism. By definition, no human or any business is perfect, so settle for doing everything as well as you can.
  • Use your listening skills to become more efficient and effective. Maximize your own productivity by listening to what your team and your customers tell you they need and giving it to them.
  • Have clear measures of your productivity. If you can’t or don’t measure results, you can’t manage any activity or run a business. Define success as you want to see it: number of customers, revenue, profit, impact. Without goals, there is no productivity to measure.

Years ago, I learned a formula for superior organization: TPOO. Touch Paper Only Once. Handle it or toss it; don’t let it sit around in a pile of stuff you’ll never get to. Getting this right can be tough. But it’s a mantra that’s easy to remember – so it just may change your life.

As another classic productivity tip prescribes: “Start anywhere.”

Rick Spence is president of Canadian Entrepreneur Communications, a Toronto-based business writer, speaker and consultant dedicated to entrepreneurship and helping businesses grow.

Read Rick Spence’s other columns on entrepreneurship.

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