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Photo: Jazmin Hupp, Women Grow Co-Founder | Tamara Beckwith/NY Post | Read Article

‘Tis the season for New Years Resolutions but NONE of these include going to the gym. Take a look at five things I’ve learned benefit every entrepreneur no matter what stage your business is in.

1. Focus on the Important Over the Urgent

If there’s one skill that separates the entrepreneurs who are driving their businesses versus the businesses that are driving their entrepreneurs crazy, it’s this. There will always be urgent tasks but they often fill up your day so that none of the important things get done. Here’s a few different tactics to keep your focus on what really matters:

  • Don’t start your day by checking your email or social media. EVER. This is the fastest way to get sucked into urgent instead of important.
  • Start your day by reciting affirmations or journaling about your goals. It will be easier to make choices that align with your goals if you review those goals every morning.
  • Rewrite your to-do lists into time blocks. Write out what you’ll be doing that day in 15-minute increments. It’ll be easier to tell when you’ve over-promised how much you can get done that day and you’ll quickly learn how poor you are at estimating how long tasks take.
  • Find at least one thing to say no to every day. The hardest part of leadership is deciding what NOT to do. There are a million opportunities out there and it’s easy to get excited about something new every day. Start every morning by removing at least one thing from your to-do list that doesn’t support your goals.
  • Delegate at least one new thing every day. Even if you’re a one women show, I bet you have friends and family wiling to lend a hand. I use FancyHands virtual assistants to take small tasks off my list like calling my cable company.
  • Hide from the world occasionally. The office, our phones, and our laptops are an unending opportunity for distractions. For big projects, setup an auto-responder on your email and turn OFF your phone for the day. Turn off notifications, social media alerts, and anything else that pops up on your screen. Take that day to make big progress on your goals.

2. Start Tracking Your Time

Time is the only finite resource. No amount of money in the world will buy you more hours in the day. You must fiercely protect your time. Start tracking how you spend your time and you’ll recognize the real costs of projects. This is the first report I look at when I’m considering hiring or getting a virtual assistant. The reporting shows me the things that could be delegated to a less expensive resource. On Mac I like Harvest and RescueTime. Many task managers and company accounting software have time tracking plug-ins for freelancers.


3. Read One New Business Book a Month

The majority of business people read a business book about once every 5 years. If you can increase your reading to one book a month, you’ll be in the top 1% of 1% of business learners (without shelling out thousands for an MBA). Even reading fiction can help improve your empathy and reading of social cues. If reading isn’t in your schedule, try audio books. Here’s a few books I love for entrepreneurs:

  • The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life – Before 8AM. Ignore the corny self-help title and just learn this one hour habit that every entrepreneur should be practicing.
  • Contagious: Why Things Catch On. If you’ve ever wanted something to “go viral” read this first.
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey. I listen to this audiobook twice a year. Tina Fey is hilarious while navigating male-dominated fields of comedy and Hollywood producing.
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Learn what separates great leaders from the rest.
  • Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. Learn how the founder of Zappos went broke before enjoying the success of creating an organization designed around the people he wanted to surround himself with.
  • Awesomely Simple: Essential Business Strategies for Turning Ideas into Action. If you don’t have time to read 100 business books a year, John Spence already did it for you and summarized the basics.

4. Practice Some Form of Mind Control

The research continues to mount on the benefits of meditation and other forms of mindfulness. I don’t care which practice you choose to follow but it’s worth finding one that works for you. If you use alcohol, cannabis, or pharmaceuticals to increase your focus, fight depression, or decrease stress, look at meditation to supplement that dependence.


5. Get Serious About Building Your Email Lists

We’re limited in how we market in this industry so the most-effective and lowest-cost method is email newsletters. That’s right! Email converts at higher rates than Twitter or Facebook so stop spending all that time retweeting and get serious about collecting email addresses of your supporters and customers. Try this:

  • Setup an easy way to add the people who email you to your email lists. No matter how early stage you are, it’s never too early to start building your email list. You can use a combination of Gmail, Zapier, and MailChimp to start building your email list for free. Here’s the full instructions on how to setup building your email list with free services.
  • Make acquiring email addresses the first priority of your website. The vast majority of your website visitors never come back. Do everything you can to convert every visitor into an email newsletter subscriber so you can bring them back. Talk to your web designer about improving email signups on your site.
  • Import every business card you get. We’re all bad at actually following up on all the business cards we receive. Make some time to import the contacts you receive into your lists regularly.