PRODUCTIVITY HACK NO. 1
When I first started out in the world of Marketing I worked for a big company and was the least paid person in my department with the longest list of jobs to do! What kept me on task every day, and still employed, was a simple list.
Tasks can add up quickly throughout the day! In order to keep myself from forgetting things and keep myself sane, I started to make a list of everything I had to do that day and at the end of the day I would put on my list for the next day all that didn’t get done. Whenever someone asked me to do something, instead of stopping what I was doing, I put it on the list to make sure it did get done. If it was an immediate priority it get moved to the top, lesser priorities moved to bottom. Every morning I consulted my list and every night before I left I had an updated list for the next morning. To this day I still use this simple strategy and it keeps me on task and from forgetting things.
Whether your list is on paper, in a planner or in an app, the important thing is to have your list of tasks and write them off and check them off in a way that works best for you.
PRODUCTIVITY HACK NO. 2
Have a Morning Routing
I know, I know, the morning routine. Sounds so cliche, but I have run my business with and without a morning routine and having a morning routine, without a doubt, helps keep me more organized, on task and moving my business forward.
The key is to try your best to stick to a routine and not to let your routine run your life, after all you started your own business to have more freedom! But, in addition to that new found freedom, you need to make a profit and following a mostly consistent routine will get you there much faster.
Do what works for you, if you have kids your routine may look different if you do not have children or have older children. Morning person? Night owl? The key to having a routine that sticks, is to understand how you work, your strengths, weaknesses and then customize your routine to set yourself up for success and not for failure.
For me, I actually have 2 routines, one for when I am spending the day working from home and another from when I will be at a clients or out for most of the day. Morning routines are not one size fits all!
I recently listened to a great podcast episode on the topic of morning routines from Amy Porterfield, listen to it here and then get set on creating your own!
PRODUCTIVITY HACK NO. 3
Most of us today are bombarded by distractions all day long – how can we not in a world full of advertisements, social media feeds, kids needing attention, walking the dog, emails to answer, spam to delete, the latest news, the latest scandal and the newest fad – each with it’s own bright, shiny allure.
By knowing yourself and your biggest distraction triggers, you can more easily manage your time and pull yourself back when you are off in bright, shiny object land.
The thing is, multi-tasking really hurts us more than it helps. As I sit here and write this, I have to control my urge to check email, look up whatever just popped into my head online, wander into the kitchen for… actually I don’t remember what I wanted in there?
See my point!
Because we are overloaded by so many things we end up rushing, forgetting things and this ultimately leads to mistakes. I have seen it so often in myself that the more I am distracted, the less I get done. I spend so much time re-focusing on what I was doing before I got distracted, I forget things that I needed to do and sadly, I make mistakes – sometimes costly mistakes.
To get a grip on my own urge to multi-task and handle the constant interruptions, either real or of my own making, I try my best to do the following:
Put the interruption on a list. You now have it stored somewhere and then once you are done with my task at hand, consult the list! See, I wasn’t joking about my lists!
Turn off notifications that are a distraction! I had to turn off my e-mail and other notifications because the notification alone showing up on my device was a distraction and I felt the constant urge to check it – seriously, no one was certainly going to die if I did not immediately check my e-mail which was more often junk than something important.
Put your phone on silent. When you need to really focus and get stuff done, put it on silent, airplane mode or just shut it off. Unless your are in a business that demands an emergency response, is a matter of life or death or urgent care, if someone really wants to get a hold of you, they will leave a message. It is not worth the distraction when you are in the flow of creating your next big thing or getting the project done on time to answer calls that can be handled more effectively and not at the expense of interrupting your work.
Set aside time to be distracted. Sounds odd, right? But we need to set time aside for having lunch with a friend, scrolling through Instagram, binging on a great series or just reading a good book. When you set that time aside, even if it is only 15 minutes before you fall asleep, you can let go of the to do list, obligations, tension and stress that builds up throughout the day. By consciously allowing time for whatever relaxes you, creativity and new thoughts subconsciously flow in without the constant pull here, there and everywhere throughout the day. You never know what problems you will solve and ideas you will come up with when simply allowing your mind to wander. If during this time you suddenly get a flash of a inspiration or a great idea – you guessed it, write it down so you don’t forget it!
I am eager to start reading a new book on this topic, “Free to Focus” by Michael Hyatt, you can buy your own copy here:
Let me know how it helps you!
PRODUCTIVITY HACK NO. 4
Automate, Batch & Outsource When You Can
Always trying to find the time to create and send emails, social media content or videos? Set aside the time and create your content in batches and then schedule the posts ahead of time. The time it takes for you to figure it out or pay someone else to do it will be money well spent. The time gained to focus on more important tasks and the things you do best in your business is priceless.
We cannot do everything in our business and grow it at the same time. Something has to give and the easiest are the things we are not good at. If you are an accountant trying to build your own website or do your own photography, you need to ask yourself – am I a web designer? am I a photographer? or am I an accountant? The thing is, when you are what I like to call “The Walmart” of you business, you are likely doing everything, but most likely not doing everything well. If you’re an accountant, focus on doing accounting the best you can and yes, tackle the business tasks you understand and are good at, but by tackling them all, you sacrifice the quality of service you provide and take time away from what you love doing most, which is why you started your business in the first place.
Here is a great podcast on how to stay on top of your content creation without going crazy from Teresa Heath-Wareing!
PRODUCTIVITY HACK NO. 5
Do the Hardest or Most Urgent Thing First
I remember when I finally learned how to take a test, go through and answer all the questions you absolutely know first. Then, go back and do the rest. If you get stuck, use the process of elimination and when necessary take your best shot at the answer.
It’s kind of the same with work. Start out with your most difficult or most urgent task first. Do as much as you can and then move on to something easy to give your mind a break. Believe it or not, you are subconsciously still working on it and when you go back, often the task becomes much easier than when you started. Overall, the time it takes to complete the task once you get back to it, is almost always faster and better than if you would not have walked away for a bit.
When we keep pushing through we are forcing things, stressing out, getting frustrated and not really problem solving. While things may get done, it is usually not our best work, doesn’t get done in the most efficient way and often takes a toll on our health and wellbeing.
Give yourself and your clients your very best and remember, you only offer 3 types of services – your clients can only pick two:
GOOD and CHEAP will not be FAST
FAST & GOOD will not be CHEAP
CHEAP & FAST will not be GOOD
PRODUCTIVITY HACK NO. 6
Know Yourself & What Works Best for You
We are all different, there is no one size fits all magic trick. But, there is something to be gained with each bit of advice, idea or strategy.
The trick is to customize it to suit you and your individual personality, strengths, weaknesses, quirks and lifestyle. Some things you just know won’t work, others are a revelation and still other things are perfect when tweaked and adjusted to how you live and work.
The key is to really know yourself. Start by thinking about the days where you are most creative, accomplish the most and feel your best. Then look at those times and notice where you were, how you were working, who was there, who wasn’t there. Was there music, did you wake up earlier or later, were you at home or at your business, did you have a mid-afternoon tea or coffee, start your day with a yoga class, mediation or reading a few pages of a good book?
Take it all into consideration – all the knowledge, tips and strategies you have learned, and tailor it to your unique self. By doing so, you will create an environment that allows you to do your best work and become the most productive and happiest you.
I promise, once you know your own habits and behaviors that increase or reduce your productivity and happiness, you can truly create the life you want to live and a business that will get you there.