Many of us are now working from home and adapting to a new schedule. I’ve been working from home for many years and I know that I often have times when I’m really busy, but don’t have much to show for all my ‘busyness’ (instead of business) at the end of the day!
Most of us are busy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are being productive. Oftentimes we are not even aware when we’ve spent a whole day just doing things, racing from place to place, clearing item after item with none of it moving us closer to our goals.
And it’s challenging with so many distractions every minute: mobile notifications, alerts, to-dos and alarms all screaming for our attention (and maybe now kids at home too!)
I’ve learned how to divide my time, focus my mind and be productive, here are my tips:
- Don’t Start Your Day With Chat
For many of us the first thing we do each morning is look at text messages, comments on Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn, What’s App etc… This is a hugely rewarding activity, (and thus very addictive) because we know others are thinking of us, connecting with us, sharing with us, communicating with us. However, it is very time consuming to read and reply to these chats and once on social media, we can be led down a scrolling path for hours.
First thing in the morning, it’s best to focus on tasks that will give the biggest return on your time. And early in the day, our energy and concentration levels are usually higher, yielding better results.
- Remove Distractions
Switch off all notifications including emails, text messages and app alerts. When working from home, tell family members that you are not available for the next 50 minutes. Put your head down, get into ‘thinking mode’ and complete one major task, then go join them for a quick coffee, then do another private, highly concentrated 50 minutes on the next task and so on.
If your role involves being on-call or available to staff all the time then I recommend designating fixed times to answer messages, emails, return calls etc… so you can also enjoy the satisfaction that comes from achieving larger tasks.
- Create A Priority List
Choose 2 or 3 big things that you would like to accomplish or at least make good progress on by the end of the day. When we don’t have 2 or 3 main tasks to focus on, our time can easily be taken up with 20 or 30 smaller things that don’t necessarily move the dial forward.
When you are rushing and multi-tasking and doing, doing, doing this is not necessarily a good use of your time and the constant switching makes it difficult to focus.
Transiting from doing lots of small daily tasks to focussing on only 2 or 3 larger tasks can cause resistance because we like routine and breaking old habits can be challenging. But if you want to start making real progress and stop firefighting then introducing new ways of thinking and new working habits is essential. In fact, you can look forward to feeling relaxed and dealing with the smaller, less significant tasks knowing that the more important tasks have been dealt with.
Change takes time so just start with one thing each day. Focus on what you have achieved, not what you haven’t achieved. There is nothing to be gained from self-criticism, feeling like a failure or beating yourself up. Just start each new day with a fresh willingness to try again.
- Batch Similar Tasks Together
Often you will find a recurring pattern in the tasks that you do. It helps save time if you do similar jobs at the same time. There is always a setup cost for every task and the setup time quickly accumulates. Batching similar tasks together also offers you the opportunity to take a step back and evaluate which tasks take up the majority of your time each day. You may find you are not aware until you write them down.
I am not very good at delegating. I like to be hands-on in my business, I enjoy writing blogs based on my knowledge, I love being creative and using Canva to create social media posts, it’s important to me to call every client individually before we choose to work together. So, for a long time, I just didn’t delegate which meant I had no spare time or energy to grow my business.
I quickly learned that delegating is a crucial skill. In fact, it was part of my own development as a business owner. I have learned so much from technology experts who did a better job than I ever could. The rewards of having someone to bounce ideas off, ask for feedback and share tasks are tremendous.
- Do A Regular Audit
Look back at each week and ask yourself:
“Am I satisfied with how I’ve spent my time?”
“Am I pleased with tasks completed this week?”
“What changes do I need to make for next week?”
“Do I need help?”
Productivity is when we consciously focus on what we are doing and how we are spending our time. Looking ahead and thinking about how we can make the most of each day. Working smart and ensuring that our efforts produce the greatest impact.
If you’re running around in circles at home or work and need some guidance and support in creating a more productive and less ‘busy’ life then book in a time for us to chat, I’m here to help you. Book a free call now.