If you didn’t read my previous two posts, Part 1: How Productivity Tips Miss the Boat – 10 Bits of Wisdom, and then Part 2: The Four Steps to Real Productivity, I recommend you check those out before diving into Part 3.
And here they are…
My 10 Favorite Productivity Tips:
- Go outside (are you shocked that this is my first productivity tip?). There are actually studies that show that nature boosts productivity. So take five minutes between clients and walk out your front door. Get an office that looks outside. Play nature sounds in the background if you can’t get the real thing. Even plants inside can boost your mood. And of course, a great way to start or end the day is a walk or other exercise in nature.
- Stay organized by having good systems. Efficient systems leave more time for the important stuff. They may take time to set up, but once they’re going, life gets easier because you don’t find yourself always looking for the same email copy to re-send or trying to remember what financial tasks you need to do each week. Having a good online file folder system so you can find things quickly makes a big difference, for example. Plus, there are some great technology options – I’m personally obsessed with Google Sheets. I have one called Biz Tracking that has 20 different tabs where I track everything from revenues to marketing hubs to leads to weekly bookkeeping tasks to client notes. There are also great scheduling apps and other things that can make life easier. But, don’t “over-app.” They can be a real time-sink too. I’m also a devotee of Asana for task management, and I don’t use many apps other than that.
- Prioritize your big rocks: Nothing will explain it better than this video, but Stephen Covey, author of the famous book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has a great explanation of why we need to focus on our big projects (big rocks) first before we get sucked into doing all the tiny ones.
- Make your biggest rock self-care. Schedule what you need to stay healthy, strong, and happy, first. Build the rest of your schedule around it. I know. Easier said than done (and trust me, I’m not perfect at it!). But strive for it, trusting that only when you are full, can you overflow in service to others.
- Find your most optimal work times, and build your schedule around them. According to Ayurvedic medicine, two of the most energized times to work are mid-morning and mid/late afternoon. But the reality is that you need to find the times of day that are best for you to work. For some people that is late at night, for some that is the minute they wake up.
- Schedule email-checking times. Schedule two or three times a day when you DO check email instead of having it open all the time. You can even create a vacation response saying that you won’t respond to people right away if you are concerned that people will freak out (but honestly, can’t someone wait four hours for you??). On my most productive days, I have email open for only three short chunks of time (morning, mid-day, and before I wrap up). I just found a handy app called Freedom that locks various email and social media programs when you tell it to!
- Do small, timed work sprints. This is a simple one. Set a timer for one hour. Work on your project the entire time without checking email or social media or getting distracted by small tasks. When the timer goes off, take a 10-minute break. Rinse and repeat.
- Have a place to write down your brilliant ideas! It’s so important to get all those great ideas out of your head and on to paper/computer. It clears your mind, keeps you organized, and it keeps you sane. Have a receptacle (e.g., a notebook) for ideas that come to you when you’re not in front of your computer. I have a notebook by my bed if I get a great idea as I’m falling asleep. I send myself emails with little ideas I think of when I’m out and about. When I get home, I transfer those notes into my larger to-do list or other appropriate place.
- Get help. Hiring someone to help you, especially with tech or admin tasks you are not good at and suck up your time, is not as expensive as you think. Trying to do it all yourself leads to burnout. Having someone help you with the backend gives you more time to focus on building your business and earning money. It’s worth a small investment to get more back, especially if you don’t like administrative or tech work. Even if it didn’t earn you more money, it would be worth it if it helps you enjoy your business and your life more (but it will likely help your business grow too).
- Find an accountability buddy, coach or mastermind group. Interestingly, making a commitment to other people is often more powerful than making a commitment to ourselves. Whether this is through a coaching program, an informal group, or with a friend, tell other people about your goals and check in with them regularly about your goals and theirs.
Got any good tips you’d like to add? Put ‘em down below in the comments section!