If someone had asked us 12 months ago what we thought virtual teams and working from home would look like, we’d probably have said we’d have more time for ourselves and our families. The time saved not sitting in traffic alone would be huge.
A year down the line and we now know better. Working from home has extended our workdays, we’re always available and our outputs are greater than ever before. The ability to remain productive is essential, and we’ve all learnt how quickly and easily a day can derail us or help us succeed.
We asked five local entrepreneurs to share their productivity tips to help you keep focused and efficient – even when you’re facing unprecedented disruptions.
“I’m a stickler for time and so I keep a tight schedule. Everything is in my diary, including exercise time and personal learning hours. The biggest challenge I faced when we went into lockdown was that I don’t like disrupting my fixed routine, and I had to learn how to blend my home life with my work life. This meant moving seamlessly from a meeting with our sales team into a school zoom session with my son.
“Theoretically this disruption should have meant getting less done, but the opposite has been true. When we embrace that we are many different things – business owner, wife, mother and teacher, for example – and that these things can co-exist, we become more productive”.
“The secret is to have a plan, and to stick to that plan as much as possible. I’m loyal to my diary, and because of that, I achieve everything I aim to in a day, from looking after my family and my health, to growing my business and supporting my team.”
Kate Moodley is an award-winning entrepreneur and the founder of Discovery Consulting Services Bedfordview.
“This seems like such a simple productivity tip, but I’ve found it to be immensely powerful for two reasons. First, because when I write a list of my top priorities the night before I’m more likely to focus on those tasks early in the day before normal disruptions take over. When we don’t plan we tend to be very reactive instead of proactive, and the result is that we’re always working in our businesses instead of on them".
“The second reason has to do with creativity. I have found that if I read about something that is really interesting at night, while I’m sleeping my brain processes it. This not only makes me more creative, but I can work much faster because my ideas flow better.”
Rapelang Rabana is the founder of Rekindle Learning, an internationally lauded technology entrepreneur who was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and Entrepreneur for the World by the World Entrepreneurship Forum.
“I believe in chunking time. First thing in the morning is time with my kids. This is followed by my two most productive hours, during which time my clients get 100% of me. I craft my entire day according to time chunks. Focused time is critical. It aligns with how my brain works and allows me to give my full attention to tasks.
“There will always be days where this doesn’t work and relentless WhatsApps and emails mean that you end up spending 12 hours working without ticking off a single task. That’s okay. When that happens, it’s important to just clear your mind for the next day. I love a new day, because you can always start it off by addressing what you will change today. There’s real power in that.”
Taryn Hunter Sharman is the founder of Faith and Fear and a former runner-up in The Apprentice South Africa.
“This doesn’t mean you should be turning business away or that you should be too fixed in your mindset. Growth mindsets embrace new challenges and say yes to life. Instead, I use it to shape what I should and shouldn’t be doing.
“For me, saying no to a task frees me up to do a more high-value task that requires more of my time. Entrepreneurs tend to be so hands-on that we want to do everything ourselves – to our detriment. We end up spending so much time on daily activities that we have no time left to build the networks, relationships and products that will take our businesses further.
“A functional team that can execute the tasks you ask of them is critical. Trust them to do their jobs. That’s what they’re there for. If you can get that right, you can free yourself up to get far more done each day.”
Matsi Modise is the founder of Furaha Afrika Holdings and Chairperson at Kuehne + Nagel SA.
“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt – and one that I share with the teams that I coach – is that four-page long to-do lists are never completed. When you’re trying to do too much in a day (or week), you end up achieving nothing.
“Instead, set a maximum of three goals each day. This will help you focus on what’s important. It’s critical to be both efficient and effective. Efficiency is how well and quickly you answer emails, but effectiveness is how much time you spend on high-value tasks that grow your brand and business.”
“I churned out a massive amount of content during the three months of lockdown because I had a crystal clear focus, I was decisive, I followed an action plan and I never have more than three balls in the air at the same time. Only once something was complete would I add a new goal to my list. That’s how you stay focused.”
Tanya Kunze is the founder of Swift Coaching and a neuroscience, business coach, and global speaker and thought leader.
Entrepreneurs are expected to be the pillars of their business. Everyone is relying on you to always be at the top of your game, including your family, employees and customers. You won’t always win the juggling game, but if you follow these powerful tips, you’ll gain more control over your time, focus and productivity – which will open more personal time as well.
At Sasfin, our goal is to assist entrepreneurs to stay in control with our B\\YOND business banking platform. Supporting your business and helping you to unlock time for more valuable tasks is our business.
The world has shifted, but Covid-19 has taught us some valuable lessons that we need to maintain as we find our new normal. These include the need to communicate better, have more empathy for each other, and leverage our support systems.