However and whatever I’m working on with my clients, we all seem to be on the lookout for hacks to improve our productivity.
So, I thought I’d share 5 of my own top tips
1. TIME BLOCKING
My working day starts at 9.30am and finishes at 3pm. I’m bound by the school run – and at the moment on just 3 days as my 3 year old is in nursery. I have to be efficient with my time. I’ve found blocking out time & significant tasks each day has been a big game changer. There are apps and online tools you can use, but I’m on old school kind of gal and each day I print out one of my Daily Schedulers (Download). This is not about re-writing your do list in another format. This is about setting goals, grouping together tasks (admin), prioritizing tasks that are going to make the greatest significance and setting timeframes to get “it” done.
By time blocking it helps keep me focused on what I’m supposed to be doing. As an analogy, by time-blocking, I have one tab open on my desktop rather than flitting between different ones.
Other rules that have helped me with time blocking include….
WORK TO YOUR STRENGTHS. When are you most productive and which times are better suited to certain tasks. I’m way more productive in the morning and I’m more likely to read, plan and reflect in the afternoon. I work a couple of evenings too – and I know some evenings I can feel inspired and be creative and others I just want to sit and listen to podcasts. That’s why I do these planners daily. It’s important to put in time for breaks…. and rewards too! I generally work for 50 minutes with a 10-minute break. Check out the Pomodoro Technique or try out your own method and see what works for you. http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/the-pomodoro-technique-is-it-right-for-you.html
MAKE IT FLEXIBLE. Where you need to, rework your time blocks throughout the day as circumstances change. The goal is to make sure they you always have an intentional plan for the time that remains in the workday.
GIVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME…BUT NOT TOO MUCH! It’s easy to underestimate how long things take. If you go over your allotted time, rework your schedule. Some people add in “buffer zones” where they can play catch up.
OFFLOAD DISTRACTIONS. Switch off social media, your phone, anything that’s going to distract you. Keep post-it notes nearby to capture anything that springs up when other things need to get done (or use Trello. See point number 2).
My new favourite app is Trello and I’ve been using it for about 12 months. It is a place where I capture EVERYTHING! I have a “board” for each area of my life / my business and anything I need to remember, I make a note on it. Ever find yourself reading a website, a blog or an article and want to come back to it, or repost it on your social media account? Log it easily with Trello. On your phone you can share it easily to your Trello board. A neat place to keep all the information you want to refer back to.
And if you do use it like a “catch all” place to store stuff, there’s a great feeling when you get to archive all those tasks that you’ve done.
3. HAVE A PLAN
…and a vision and a strategy for you and your business. It doesn’t need to be a big elaborate plan – it’s important to have clarity on what you want to achieve (vision) and how you’re going to get there (the strategy). This in turn helps you set out your goal and your intention for the week, month or year ahead. That way, the tasks that need to get done will get done. If it’s not part of the plan or the strategy – it’s not making any list or time block!
4. EAT THAT FROG
“There’s an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day”.
This is a quick and easy book to read. Using ‘eat that frog’ as a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task of your day – the one you are most likely to procrastinate on, but also probably the one that can have the greatest positive impact on your life.
I love this book – and whilst the thought of eating the biggest, baddest, ugliest frog can be daunting, the satisfaction from getting it done early on is great. Just make sure you’re eating the right kind of frogs!
5. DELEGATE AND / OR ASK FOR HELP
As a small business owner you have to recognise you can’t do everything. I’ve realised this myself this year and have recently started working with a wonderful business woman as my Virtual Assistant. She’s helping me with all kinds of tasks. Some I’d like to think I could do if I had time, but others it’s much better for me and my business if I ask for help. She can get it done in a fraction of the time. If you’re looking to grow your business, there’s a chance you’re going to have to do something differently. If someone else can do it, let them. Use your time for what you’re really good at.
I always offer my clients this simple formula. Take your earnings and divide by the hours you work. Giving in you an hourly rate. Anything you can outsource for less than that hourly rate…outsouce. Focus on what you’re great at.
That’s the exact reason that may of my clients enlist my help. They know there’s lots of training, tutorials and freebies out there. But by working with me they’ll bypass the many mistakes that many business owners make and experience success quicker and more effeciently than going it alone.
I hope that has helped with some ideas on becoming more productive in your business. I’d love to hear if it has!
I’m Sam Dixon, founder of Thrive In Business – an experienced Marketing Coach & Consultant to ambitious businesswomen who want to launch, grow and scale their business with flexible marketing support. For a free 30 minute discovery call get in touch on 07972 783 507 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you’re looking for the support of like-minded women, come and join the conversation on my Facebook group Women Who Thrive in Business