I’m an honest person, and so I’m going to hold my hands up and admit that I’ve really struggled for productivity this year. I will go through phases where I can be really productive and then phases where I will find myself procrastinating all too easily. As I balance both running a business and raising my two young girls, I don’t work full time each week. And often my working days are spent out delivering training or speaking at events. And so, it’s even more important for me to be as productive as possible when I am at my desk.
So, I have committed to being a more productive person and squeezing more out of a day. You’ll always hear it said that the world’s great entrepreneurs have only 24 hours in a day too, it’s what they do with those 24 hours that counts. It’s not necessarily about working harder. Much more about being smart with your time and getting the right stuff done.
So, that being said, I thought I would share with you some of the things I have been doing over the recent months to increase my productivity. And the impact has honestly been HUGE!
1. GETTING UP AT 5.30am
This is something I’ve done on and off since my second daughter was born 2.5 years ago. But I would usually allow myself to lie in bed until the girls woke up if one or both of them had had a particularly bad night. As such, I would very quickly slip out of the habit. Now, no matter how bad the night is, my alarm goes off at 5.30am and I get up. This gives me approximately 40 minutes to myself, and occasionally a little longer if I’m lucky, before the house awakens. This seems to serve two purposes to me. I have a bit of extra time to do stuff. Some days I do a workout, if I don’t have a gym session planned that day. Other days I crack on straight away with some work. But the other thing I have found is that if I get up at 5.30am and have that bit of time to myself in the morning, I seem to be more productive and alert for the rest of the day. It’s like 5.30am is my magic wake up time. And if I lie in bed until 6.15am, or whatever time the ‘mummy’ cries start, my day just doesn’t go the same way.
I’ve read and heard over and over again about the benefits of meditating. But I’ve never really put the time aside to do it, or to really understand what it involves. So, I decided to give it a shot. I now meditate about 5 times a week. Usually, I fit this in first thing, either after my morning workout, or before I start doing some work. I only spend 10 minutes but it seems to tune in my head for the day. I started my downloading the Headspace app and working through the ten free beginners sessions on there. And now, I search YouTube for 10 minute guided meditations, choosing one that I find fitting for that day, such as anxiety-relief if I’ve got something anxiety-inducing coming up that day, or even productivity if I want to squeeze as much as I can out of the day. It really does help. There’s no lotus posing or humming involved! I just sit on my sofa, focusing on my breathing and listening to the guide.
3. FOCUS ON ONE BIG THING
Each week, I think of the one thing I want to accomplish that week. It could be to finish a certain piece of work. But mostly, I try to focus this on my marketing, such as creating a new Facebook Ad campaign, or creating a lead capture. I also then pick one thing each day that I really want to complete, and would be content if it were the only thing that got completed that day. This usually would align with the one big thing for the week. Then I get to work on that thing, before moving on to any other tasks.
4. USING A PRODUCTIVITY PLANNER
I have invested in a productivity planner (you can get the one I use here). I really like the way it’s set up. You add your one thing for the day, then you add the next more important items you need to complete, then any other items after that. The book focuses on you working in 25 minute blasts, then having a 5 minute break to make a brew, use the loo, or whatever else you need to do (yes, I purposefully made that rhyme!). I set the timer on my phone for 25 minutes, and I don’t let myself wander from that task until the 25 minutes is up. It really does work! The key with this is to also not create too long a to-do list for each day. Just focus on the main tasks, and get them done!
5. PUT THE PHONE AWAY
When my phone is alongside me, I naturally find myself grabbing for it. Suddenly, I’ll realise I’m on Instagram, watching Instagram Stories! Or checking the weather for the rest of the day! Smartphones really can be such a time drain. I do have my phone near me, to use it to time my 25 minutes, but it’s in a drawer out of sight, so I don’t keep unconsciously grabbing for it.
6. CHECKING EMAILS LESS
This is something I’ve been doing for a while now. Firstly, I don’t have the notifications on that pop up. If you’re busy working on a task on your PC, then a little notification appears to say you have an email, your attention is immediately diverted even if you don’t go to read that email. I also only check emails twice a day, unless there is something incredibly important I’m waiting on. This frees up so much time, but people still get responses to within a few hours, and I’ve never lost any business as a result.
7. SCHEDULING SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media had to come in there somewhere didn’t it! The thing is, one of the big push backs I’m often given about social media is how much time it takes. Yes, there is no magic way to have a great engaging social media presence without spending any time on it. But then social media is a great way to help grow your business. Checking emails every 30 minutes is not! Scheduling definitely helps with this. I do post a lot of live updates, but mostly I schedule. I’ve got to admit, this is a breakfast task for me! While the girls are having their breakfast, I spend 10 minutes having a think about what I want to get out on social media that day. I also schedule several updates about a blog post as soon as I hit the publish button. You’ll see a link to this blog post appear several times across my social media. That’s all scheduled and is a part of my blog writing task. My scheduling tool of choice is Buffer.
The result on my business on being more productivity has been phenomenal. Since implementing much of the above, I have had the best months ever in my 8 years of running a business, while still having a couple of days off in the working week with my girls.
How do you make sure you’re more productive and use your 24 hours effectively?