4 Tips For Becoming A More Productive Entrepreneur

By Yaro Starak
41 Comments

Productive EntrepreneurThese tips will make you a better human being in my opinion, but you have to stay on topic, so let’s focus on business.

Over the past few months I’ve experimented with some lifestyle changes. Not all of these changes were specifically about improving my business or working life, but they have enabled me to become more efficient at what I do during the day with my work. I suspect they will have a similar effect on you if you do them too.

Some of these tips, at least on the surface, might seem a bit dramatic to some people, others will laugh and say they have been doing these things for years. Either way, please read this advice with a mindset of how you could possibly implement them to help your life and your business.

1. Don’t Watch Television

Mid this year I moved into a new house – my first home. As you do when you get your first home, you have a lot of stuff to buy. Furniture, dishes, cutlery, fridge, washing machine and of course – the TV.

My TelevisionI went out and bought a new flat-screen television – not a super big one, but a bigger TV than I have had before (see the picture to the left – that’s my TV). Australia, in recent years, rolled out a digital broadcast free-to-air service (cable is not that big here) and having never purchased a digital television or digital receiver I didn’t know much about the technology.

I was over a friend’s place and she had a digital set-top box and wow – she had perfect picture but not only that, she got an EXTRA channel for free. That was cool I thought, so I decided I wanted a digital television too, so I bought one.

When buying the TV the packaging said it had an in-built digital tuner, which I took to mean it had an in-built digital receiver. Turns out I was wrong and it didn’t even come with an aerial, so after taking it out of the box I couldn’t receive any television channels.

I wrote down on my very large to-buy list (you know how big this thing gets when you move into a new place) to purchase an aerial or digital receiver box, however I never got around to it.

Instead I started watching DVDs. I still had a lot of StomperNet DVDs to get through and I also had Mike Filsaime’s 7 Figure Code product to watch too (which is excellent by the way), so I began watching one DVD at lunch while I cooked and ate.

A few weeks went by and I didn’t have any commercial television. I admit it – I had Simpsons-withdrawal and I also missed music video clips, but I definitely wasn’t missing all the horror stories that the news constantly dishes out, the celebrity following, the brain-draining commercials and all the mindless shows that today’s society calls entertainment.

It’s amazing the emotion television stirs up and how pervasive it is in your life – it’s so easy to just turn it on and chill for a while, where in reality you are sucking up a lot of unhealthy junk. It’s now been several months with no TV and I’m not going back any time soon, although I might need to do something when the Australian Open tennis comes in January.

Besides just feeling better, not having TV means you turn to more productive things to do, like reading books, exercise, working on your blog/business and actually creating output, studying other resources, or if you do want some entertainment, you can grab a DVD of your favorite television series and not have to watch commercials. I’d pay a few dollars to watch Lost and The 4400 with no ads – that is for sure!

Honestly, I’m surprised how good this change has been and I bet you try it you will be blown away by how much more you get done and how much better you feel. There are some things in life you don’t need to know and 99% of television falls into that bracket – you can get the 1% you need to know in a much better format by going online, or reading a book or magazine or talking to other humans.

2.Hire A House Cleaner

I’ve wanted to do this one for a long time and when a flyer popped into my mailbox with a nice bold headline stating your home can be cleaned for $20 a week I thought yeah, I like the sound of that!

I now have a cleaning lady come in every two to three weeks, do a once over of my house and it costs about $40 in total (I have a three bedroom house).

If you value your time and don’t enjoy cleaning then get this job outsourced.

I can sit down in the two hours it takes to clean my house and write a blog article, or respond to email or work on a new report or record audio or do all kinds of things that are worth a lot more than the $20 an hour it costs to get my house cleaned. This really is a no-brainer decision and I can’t believe it took so long to arrange it.

You have to remember I’m a bachelor living by myself presently, so that means I have a different environment to say having a family. My place is pretty clean in general, but after a few weeks the mess starts to build up. I might let it go for as long as a two months sometimes without cleaning and then finally do it. Now it stays clean, I don’t have to devote any mindshare to it and it costs about the equivalent of ten minutes of my time since I get a much higher leverage hourly rate doing other things.

3. Don’t Eat Processed Sugar

I doubt there is anyone reading this who doesn’t know that sugar – the unnatural refined kind (not the good stuff in fruit etc) is bad. I’ve know this for ages, however I still would eat some kind of “treat” at least once a day. Chocolate was (is) my weakness and if there is something chocolate in the house I eat it – no amount of willpower can save me.

I’ve had some friends recently read through an old book called Sugar Blues and they’ve passed on to me how unbelievably toxic sugar is to our bodies – it’s basically poison – an addictive poison (hmm, does that remind you of another type of poison drug some humans use on a regular basis that is 100% legal?)

Regardless of how bad sugar might be, I didn’t like that I was addicted to chocolate and experienced cravings after lunch and dinner, so I decided to eliminate sugar from my diet as much as possible.

Bear in mind sugar is in a lot of things – if you live in the USA, Australia or Canada in particular you will have a hard time finding anything that doesn’t have sugar in it. Most processed foods have sugar added, certainly things like soft drinks, colas, and fast food have plenty of sugar added and if you just spend some time reading labels at your supermarket you will be amazed that EVERYTHING has sugar in it.

If you look at things from a business perspective this makes complete sense.

Sugar makes things taste sweeter, which means tastier to most people and of course it’s addictive as well. Hmm…so if we add this ingredient to our foods more people will want to buy it? I smell profit! Sometimes there are aspects of the corporate world that I really hate, and this is one of them.

Regardless of anything else I wanted to test this no-sugar theory and see if there are any tangible results. If you read Sugar Blues you will find a list of symptoms a mile long that sugar can be responsible for, but in my case I’ve noticed one big change – I don’t experience a mid-afternoon lull anymore.

Previously I’d crash around 2-4PM each day. I’d get tired, sluggish and feel like napping. As I type this it’s almost 3PM, I recently had lunch and I feel 100%. In the past I’d have lunch and much down on something chocolate with sugar in it and possibly have a drink with sugar in it too, with lunch. My glucose levels were all over the place, flying high then dropping down again, hence causing my sleepiness. Now with no sugar, things are more stable.

These are the sort of tangible results that I take notice of and I expect if you try to cut sugar from your diet you will be blown away by the improvements to your health. Remember you have to eat some sugar – our bodies need it – so get stuck into fruit instead of cake.

With the extra energy I’ve been able to get more done each day, including both work and exercise, and I haven’t had an afternoon nap in a while. I can’t conclusively conclude that eliminating sugar from my diet is responsible for the change, but it certainly makes a lot of sense to me, so I’m going to try and stick with it.

As an alternative to sugar you can try things like Xylitol if you absolutely need something white, sweet and powdery.

4. Don’t Respond To Email

Haha! – You might laugh at this – how can you NOT respond to email?

Okay, of course you can’t completely ignore email, but you need to recognize how much of a constraint it is to actually getting things done.

If you asked me what is the biggest thing that holds my business back, it’s email. Email sucks time, most of it relates to treading water activities, yet you have to give it *some* time. The problem is, most of us give it an inordinate amount of time given what it provides for us in return.

In The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss teaches a good technique for handling email by leaving it for certain times of the day and suggests batch processing. Mike Filsaime leaves email to the end of the day. I’ve tried both these techniques and they don’t work for me straight out of the box, however I’ve taken these ideas and come up with my own system.

Batch processing is great and I’ve done that with my email for years, so this is the first step you need to take. Create specific periods were you knuckle down and get your email processed. As David Allen of Getting Things Done notes, there will be emails you can answer in two minutes, so you sit down and bang these out the door. Then you go through and sort the rest of the emails into project and action folders for when it is time to work on those projects.

I’ve taken to quickly scanning my email, deleting the messages I don’t need, responding to the two minute emails and then just ignoring the rest until my next batch process period. Sometime I don’t batch process for many days. This is what I mean by ignoring your email. You just let it sit there, knowing that you will batch process them in a day or three. If people can’t wait that long, then too bad, some things are just more important than replying to an email.

Of course you scan your email at least once a day to make sure nothing critical is there, but most email can be left for several days without reply while you knuckle down and do the things that actually move you forward. You might upset a few people, but most of the time people learn how long it takes for you to reply and as long as you watch out for any “hot” time sensitive things so you don’t miss them, this system can alleviate some of the pressure.

I’ve yet to come across a perfect system for email and it’s just going to get worse as the amount of email we receive increases, but you have to set things straight – email should not dominate your attention – your moving forward tasks should. To help deal with this, push email to the back of your priorities, batch process it, use a folder system to manage and prioritize it and let it ride for a few days if there is nothing pressing to respond to.

Include These Tips In Your Life

You’ve got some unique tips from me today, which are not quite your typical Internet marketing style advice. Please take these as suggestions and experiment with them in your life and see how you go. You don’t have to everything listed here all at once and for some of you these ideas might be quite challenging (giving up sugar for example), so pick the one you think could have an immediate positive impact on your life and test it out.

Good luck!

Yaro Starak
Optimizing Life

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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41 Comments

  • Very True Yaro,
    but man I m addicted to cricket. just watch telly for this bat ball contest. any tips to get rid of this life threatning addiction?

  • Top quality information, I love to read this kind of article from you Yaro. It’s absolutely true about the watching television part. I’ve been staying away from TV for few months from now, I only watch for about an hour a day.

    It really does feel better because now I do more productive things. My blog and internet business was one of them.

    Thumbs Up Yaro!

  • I started to read with trepidation and sure enough watching TV does account for a small part of my day, but only programs that are worth watching rather than visual wallpaper. My wife is my house cleaner except when I drive the vacuum downstairs for 20 mins each week. The sugar thing I am 100% onboard and on emails I am not so important that they take up too much time yet, but I have been warned. Thanks Yaro for the pointers and suggestions :)

  • Good thing, I don’t own a house, lol.


  • One more :)
    – Don’t sleep (as these 2/3 of your time spent in vain).
    As for me, I have a great problem with sleep, I cannot get myself to go to bed in the evening (because that’s when I feel inspired) and then I cannot get up in the morning because I feel awful after the working night. So the best way out would be never to sleep at all!

  • [...] productivity could be increased by the set-up of your workspace; however, I came across an article, 4 Tips for Becoming A More Productive Entrepreneur, that takes a look at some drastic (in my opinion) changes in your life that could increase your [...]

  • I hear you about the e-mail dilemma. It seems like I can spend hours just answering a few e-mails. I hate it. I generally do the same as you and wait a few days to answer all of the e-mails at once.

  • I try to get visitors addicted on sweet Flickr sugar.

    Information is good and healthy but entertainment is all things sugar. And sugar seems to be more addictive then whole wheat bread. ;)

  • I’ve recently become a big fan of outsourcing house cleaning. As a properly raised woman, this was a pretty tough psychological barrier to get past, but it was a great – and inexpensive – decision. I wrote about it in Elimination and Outsourcing Closer to Home.

  • Great post! lol… I have Dishnetwork service here in the states and hardly ever watch TV(once in a while I’ll catch some CSI) and I agree… watching your fav shows on DVD is WAY better..

    I still remember the first time me and my wife watched Lost on DVD.. I RAN out and rented the REST! lol… same with Prison Break.

    Hiring a cleaning lady is something I’d love to do, but my wife would kill me lol!

    Suger.. hmmm, drinking a dang sprite right now :( oh well on my list of to-do, err to-don’ts

    Email…. I already don’t respond to a lot of emails, so another check mark for me there :)

  • Hey Yaro, I’m so proud of you for giving up TV and sucrose. Now I’ll have to think of your next healthy challenge :)

    I want your house cleaner, that’s SO cheap!

  • That’s one sensible post I’ve came across from you so far (that is, I am not saying that the rest of your posts are not ^_^). It is, for it hits us directly in our comfort zone.

    Thanks Yaro. I’ll take that advise seriously (whatever happened to Clark at Smalbille…hmmmm).

    Cheers!

  • [...] get enough productivity tips. One tip I found: Yaro Starak at Entrepreneur’s Journey says don’t watch TV if you want to be a more productive entrepreneur. But Ryan Imel over at Copyblogger found three [...]

  • See!? Some might wonder what Tea Party Girl and Blogging Guru Yaro could possibly have in common, but now I know the REAL reason I joined Blog Mastermind. Any ‘LOST’ fan knows their stuff and I’m not surprised you’re a fan, too!

    But the $20 a housecleaning thing? Is that only in Australia? It is WAY more here in the states, but one of the number one reasons I’m motivated to blog. If I can write and pay someone else to clean, that’s the best reward I can imagine.

  • Not responding to emails will be something new to do. I’ve always loved responding to emails and it’s my major means of communication with clients so I can’t really do that.

    I’m thinking if there’s speed reading, how about speed-emailing? Is there such skill?

  • Great tips, I agree with all of them. Hiring a cleaning lady is interesting I must say but I would rather get some exercise and do it myself. I am starting to read more books and watch productive TV shows that will teach me something.

  • Great tips, I agree with all of them. Hiring a cleaning lady is interesting I must say but I would rather get some exercise and do it myself. I am starting to read more books and watch productive TV shows that will teach me something.

    Also saves money too

  • TV: Years ago, i threw a small bedroom TV out the window. Literally. It was a time waster and distraction. I was younger and rash then, i could have just turned it off. lol. But it felt right to do. It signified dramatic change, renewal, action, etc.

    SUGAR: I dont do much of it. If anything coffee is my vice of choice.

    CLEANING LADY: No one can do it better than me, so now outsourcing this one. I’m abit OCD.

    DVD’s: The one thing i seriously need is more exercise. Walking, biking, tennis, etc. More of it.

    It was nice to hear about your sensibilities and home life. Good read. Thx!

  • TV: My policy for the past 5 years or so has been to pay for cable during football season (late August/early September) and then cancel it after the superbowl (early February) – the rest of the year I didn’t watch enough to justify the cable expense. This year, I didn’t get cable at all. I knew I’d be busy, and when we have cable my wife winds up watching too much tv and not studying enough (she is in her second year of law school) – it’s been rough not being able to easily watch the games that I want to see. We get two stations in (with a bit of static) so I get to watch 1 football game per week. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t start until 8:15 so I wind up going to bed by halftime. A couple of times I invited myself to a friend’s house to watch a game I really wanted to see.

    Cleaning – I’d like to outsource that, but not so sure the wife would go for it. Definitely something to look into in the near future! We aren’t super messy, but we aren’t super neat either, and with her in law school I need to do most of the cleaning.

    Processed Sugar – I don’t like sweet foods, so that cuts most of that crap out of my diet. I bake my own bread, make my own beef jerky and apple leathers, used to brew my own beer. My snacks generally involve sliced carrots or pretzels or fruit. Given that I run competitively, my diet is pretty important to keep me healthy.

    Email – I know I need to batch process. Haven’t gotten to that yet, though. One of these days…

  • [...] at the Entrepreneur’s Journey Yaro has a post called 4 Tips for Becoming a More Productive Entrepreneur. Interesting ideas. But give up sugar and TV? [...]

  • Yaro, good stuff. Here in America I call it the fattening up and dumbing down of America. And you hit the nail on the head … TV contributes to the dumbing down part and sugar, OMG, it is the fattening up part. Did you know that 32% of Americans are obese?

    Pierre

  • [...] Productivity: Yaro has four tips that will help entrepreneurs (and other people as well) become more productive. [...]

  • While there are some wonderful TV shows I enjoy, I find that if I block out time for those (about 2 hours worth of MUST SEE TV), then go do my other work (reading, writing, etc.) I’m much better off.

    The house cleaner thing is a great idea. However, I find that folding laundry, dusting, etc. is a great time to listen to all those podcasts I need to listen to for work. I find that if I noodle around on the computer while listening to podcasts, I end up being distracted. Driving and listening to podcasts works well, too.

  • cat

    Good timing Yaro.

    Mark McGuinness finished his time management series for creatives on Friday, then released a free e-book compiled from the series.

    I followed along on the series, posting at my personal blog (designers-who-blog.com). It was interesting going and I learned a great deal about myself.

    Sugar. Mark doesn’t mention sugar, but that one I gave up years ago. Coffee, now, I believe that has the same problems, in that it makes me jittery. Jittery eventually wears me out.

    Maids? I’ve sworn by them for years. Mine comes in once a week so I guess I’m messier than you are. Or it might just be that I’m female :-)

    Emails? Well, although I’ve improved a great deal since the beginning of the series, I still have a way to go. But, they no longer control the best part of my days.

    Since the series I noticed I”m able to take more time to read books, walk, and generally spend quality time with friends, etc. Oh, and get more work done of course.

    It was worth taking the time every week while the series was running, to journal what was happening as I put his ideas in motion.

    Some things worked. Some didn’t. But what worked is now ingrained in the way I work.

    Nice.

  • [...] Productivity: Yaro has four tips that will help entrepreneurs (and other people as well) become more productive. [...]

  • Nice post, Yaro.

    I haven’t had TV reception in yours. I don’t have cable or satellite. I listen to Yahoo radio and watch Netflix movies. Yes, breaking the TV habit is a great idea.

  • I just came across a box I labeled “Poetry.” It is almost 40 years worth of great books of proverbs, quotations, and yes, poetry that I’ve collected since I was a kid. Plus one other book: a very yellowed copy of “Sugar Blues.”

    I remember when the late, great silent film star Norma Desmond of “Sunset Blvd,” aka Gloria Swanson looking thinner and better in her ’70’s promoting that book on Merv Griffin and all the great talk shows of the ’60’s. Her last husband, William Duffy, wrote it.

    In addition to the medical aspect, it details how sugar became so pervasive and how wars have been fought over it, like oil is today.

    Secondly, I agree about coffee and let’s include black tea. Although white and green tea are being hyped these days, they can be ok if drunk minimally.

    The one way to get around all the processed food with sugar, caffeine, salt, MSG, various flavor enhancers, etc is to eat as much raw foods as possible. I know that’s hard for many on the go, or in weather wherein not many fresh veggies and fruit available.

    But it’s easy to grow your own organic sprouts, and most are surprised items like romaine lettuce has more protein than meat. Eating raw on the run just takes a little planning, like buying fruit and cutting up celery.

    It’s amazing how much energy and emotional stability I’ve gained as I’ve eaten more raw foods and also lost a lot of weight over the last 6 years. The myth you have to eat hot food during winter just means drink lots of herbal teas to feel nice and warm!

    There’s tons of books and online resources to help people transition to more raw foods, plus the science behind it, and great recipes, so just Google it! It’s fun and extremely empowering and liberating.

    TV: I just watch great old films on Turner Classic Movies to inspire me and because they are my passion and my only relaxation besides walking. I too have Dish which offers satellite radio, Sirius. Although I am known for my punk rock photos, I listen to their “Best of Broadway” because it’s so uplifting and inspiring!

    Most of the time I just listen to my own thoughts and focus on my work and the great tips Yaro shares with us, while munching on celery and drinking herbal teas.

  • Entrepreneurial Time Management and Discipline

    As we near the end of 2007, it’s time to start making those goals for yourself and your business for 2008. After studying all the entrepreneurs I have come into contact with over the past year, both at StartupNation and in my marketing/webdev bus…

  • [...] Yaro Starak presents some unusual ideas for improving your productivity in    4 Tips For Becoming A More Productive Entrepreneur posted at Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro [...]

  • jim

    i’ll never be able to give up tv. I have a 55″ hdtv. everything else is doable to some extent I already do it. nice post though.

    http://www.golfnorwich.com/

  • [...] going to sound somewhat contradictory to my advice to “ignore your email” in my article 4 Tips For Becoming A More Productive Entrepreneur – but hear me out, this is a very important point and so many businesses get it [...]

  • I recently hired someone to take care of the house cleaning and I have never spent a more satisfying $40! Instead of worrying about something I hate to do and trying to fit time into my busy schedule to do it, I can now work a little extra and pay someone else to do the thing I hate – clean!

  • Hi Yaro,

    It sounds like a working title for a new self improvement product – TECS. (TV, email, cleaning, sugar).

    Sugar: I have observed the rollercoaster effects of sugar in groups of teenagers at a local school. We have created a world of toxic foodstuffs and some of our generation are making a living by selling them to our children.

    Television (derived from telovisina: telo – to pour out, visina – raw sewage). It boggles the mind how many $100,000,000 is spent annually on the networks, transmitters, production teams and allied industries in order to deliver what mostly amounts to raw sewage into our homes.

    Cleaning: You must be a tidy nut with so much time between visits.

    Email: I have just finished an extended break from work and I have developed a habit of sorting through emails real fast. The delete key sure is your friend.

    – Geoff Robertson

    PS. I made up the TV metaphor – it is not real, it just seems that way.

  • Nice post Yaro. The best example of the effects of sugar are on children. Watch the bahavioural changes of a child from having processed sugar to not having it you will be amazed. I am also glad to hear someone else thinks that the new shows on television are completely crap.

    I will give it a go and see if my productivity increases. – Adam

  • I’ve been a TV addict for a long time. Even after I got married, my wife has tried unsuccessfully to deter me from spending hours watching TV.

    However, without any effort on my part, I discovered that for about a month now, I have watched less TV because of my passion to get my blog going in top shape. I work 7.30 to 5.30 and spend an average of 3hours on the road. So, I only have the evenings for reading books or watching TV (which is my favorite) Since I started my blog, I have been spending a lot of time reading e-books about blogging. I read till late in the night, so naturally, I had to sacrifice the time that I would have spend watching TV.

    To be candid, my life has become better for it. The books that I have been reading have impacted my life as a whole, not just my online business.

    Concerning sugar, I still have to work on that. I love anything sweet! I’ve got to break the habit. ;-)

  • [...] For example, according to Wordtracker’s free keyword tool, shows 620 searches for the word entrepreneur. Yaro Starak knows how to spell entrepreneur and has based his blog on the correct spelling of the word. Not only did he launch his blog with the keyword entrepreneur in the domain name, but he also creates blog posts with the keyword in the title such as the blog post 4 Tips for Becoming a More Productive Entrepreneur. [...]

  • Yaro makes a good point when he says that he came up with his own system for managing his email after taking some advice from others.

    The truth is that we ALL need to do that — but the problem is that we don’t really think about designing our own productivity systems. It’s a task that we ALL have to do as entrepreneurs simply because there is no off-the-shelf system that works for everyone.

    It’s really a process of testing, practicing and refining until we invent something that works for us — and even then we need to know that it might change as the business grows, and for example, as the amount of email we get expands.

  • this is all so true, i gave up watching tv ages ago, everything is a dvd now, and there’s nothing like watching episodes of lost, commercial free, back to back.. now the strange thing is i never commented on this post but i got an email saying there was a new comment on it by someone and i think ive got quite a few of them, time to read the next one :)

  • Hey,

    Thanks for the read, the only time I would ever consider becoming an entrepeneur would be after watchign dragons den. When you see an average person seal a deal from something they have been working on. Anyway was a great article again.

    Thanks,
    Richard.

  • [...] of the first steps Yaro Starak took on his road to success was to kick the tv habit. We all know how that worked for [...]

  • I could implement all 4 of these options……It is difficult to stay focused when you manage yourself. Great article! Thanks!

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