Entrepreneurship is tough as it is. But if you are a student entrepreneur, you need an exceptional amount of grit. Say goodbye to weekends and vacations. Any spare time you have will be dedicated to your company. Although this may sound terrible, it’s actually the best thing ever. There are few things I would rather do than build my business. If you feel this way, that’s a sign that you will likely succeed. You have to be insanely passionate about what you do — otherwise, you won’t make the sacrifices needed to create a successful company.
Having run my business while in medical school and business school, I’ve learned a few things about how to be efficient with my time. Here are 5 life hacks that will help you be more productive.
(1) Do The Most Difficult Task First
You only have so much energy to expend in one day. And your ability to concentrate will dwindle as the day goes on. Therefore, you should complete the task that requires the most mental effort first. For my business, this is typically writing new content for students to prep for the SAT. For medical school, this is typically reading 20-30 pages of a pathophysiology textbook. For business school, this is typically reading the newest case study for a class. If you complete your most difficult task early in the day, you will not feel as drained later on in the day when you have less taxing tasks to complete.
(2) Turn Off the Tech
In order to really get work done, you should disconnect from the internet, phone, and any other technology that may distract you from studying. In the world of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat, distractions are all around us. Because information is so readily available to us at all times of the day, it’s hard for many of us to find time to concentrate without interruption. This is why I recommend turning off all tech when you want to get some serious work done – this means no laptops, phones, or other electronic devices.
(3) Reply to E-mail Last
One of the biggest tasks that bogs down the workday is e-mail. The world worked just fine when people weren’t sending e-mails back and forth every few minutes. So it’s not necessary to reply to every e-mail immediately. For example, although I check my e-mail once an hour, I only reply every two days (unless I see an e-mail that is especially urgent). Most e-mails can wait. Set aside some time at the end of the day to reply to all of your e-mails at once. This way, sending e-mails doesn’t impede your workflow. In addition — replying to e-mails is a rather easy task that typically doesn’t expend a lot of mental energy. So it doesn’t make sense to spend the beginning of your day replying to e-mails.
(4) Do Work on the Plane/Train
Whenever I travel, I am astounded by the number of people who waste time playing games, watching TV, or sleeping. Sitting on a plane or train for hours at a time with no internet is actually the perfect environment to get some serious work done. Yes, this means do not pay for internet. Instead, plan out exactly what you plan to accomplish and load those files beforehand so that you don’t need the internet. For example, on my recent trip from New York to Las Vegas, I wrote a 25-page proposal for my business. The partner that I showed it to said it was the best proposal he had ever seen and he was going to use it as an example of how businesses should format proposals in the future. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I was able to write this document in a no-distraction environment like an airplane.
(5) Listen to Audiobooks
Having lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas where I probably spend an hour everyday driving, I recently discovered the power of audiobooks. I don’t have a lot of time between my business and school to pick up and read physical books. However, because I spend so much time commuting, I’m able to “read” a book a week simply by playing audiobooks while I’m driving. This has resulted in a tremendous amount of learning through books about business, entrepreneurship, marketing, and self-help. I recommend using the Audible.com app because it starts where you left off and it’s easy to plug your phone into your car while driving. Even if you don’t drive, you can still listen to audiobooks on your daily commute (i.e. train, bike, or walk).