Does the statement “not enough hours in the day” ring true for you?
Often times, it’s not the actual workload throwing us into a tailspin, it’s a lack of focus and way too many distractions.
With the rise of popularity of social media and our constant connectivity to everything media related and mobile, it seems that even the term multi-tasking is now diluted. More often than not many of us find ourselves exposed to four, sometimes five screens at once. We’ve got the laptop open, the television on in the background, the tablet next to the mouse pad, and of course our phone or even phones no further than within arms reach –AT ALL TIMES! The question we must ask ourselves, is all this technology and all of this dependence on our portable devices causing us to be more or less productive?
Ok, so new technologies help us stay connected, informed, always in the loop and always accessible, and yes, this does have many benefits for business and especially a new business. On the other hand, what constant exposure and connectivity does is it creates abundant distraction and takes away from our focus.
So how do we master the art of productivity with so many constant disruptions around us?
Step ONE – like with any problem or issue that needs fixing, we need to admit that it’s there. If you can’t admit that you are addicted to checking your email, your LinkedIn, your Twitter or your Facebook than you are not ready for change. Ask yourself how often you get phantom rings, when you think you feel your phone vibrating, or you think you hear it ringing when it’s not. Once you do realize that checking your phone, social media accounts or your email before your toes touch the floor in the morning may be an issue and you’d like to change then the real work can begin.
Ok, the REAL step one- Stop multitasking and focus. Doing ten things at once and working on multiple projects simultaneously is actually counter productive. Figure out what maters and prioritize. And don’t only think about business. Make sure you fit in healthy eating, exercise and social activity. Healthy body is a healthy mind.
Step two- Eliminate distractions. Set a schedule and stick to it. Set a time during the day when you turn off your phone (or phones), you disable e-mail notifications and you lock your door. It doesn’t have to be for a whole day, but going into lock-down mode for 2-3 hours per day can make a world of a difference in your productivity. Use this time to plan, brainstorm, and really work on your new business, but remember – one task, one project at a time. If your website needs content, focus on writing web copy only. Being focused 100% on one task will cause the quality of your work to increase substantially.
Step three- Make an outline of tasks and projects and things that need to get done. Prioritize from most to least important and time sensitive, then break each task down into do-able, realistic steps. When you follow the outline, you will be able to cross each step off as you accomplish things one by one. Quickly you will see how much more you are getting done by focusing on tasks individually.
Step four- Set a specific schedule for specific tasks you must do everyday, but that without organization can turn into major distractions. Social media today is a must for any business, but it can also be a massive waste of time. Set time limitations. For example, establish that from 10:00 a.m.- 11:00 a.m. you will check all social media accounts and respond to comments and questions. From 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. spend time posting relevant content on FB, twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Also set specific time frames for checking and responding to email. You can do that from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. If your phone isn’t ringing, than nothing in your inbox is on fire. Stick to the timeframes. If this is hard, disconnect from the Internet – you won’t be so tempted.
Step five – Get it done. Stick to it! If you feel after some time that your slipping into old habits again, and we know that they die hard, reassess. See what was and wasn’t helping and fix it. Maybe change up your set time schedule. If you find that you prefer to check e-mail first thing in the morning (after breakfast of course) than check it then, but don’t check it again until your next e-mail check window. Be consecutive and you will find that much needed balance in your work.
Additional tips for increasing productivity:
- For heavens sake!!! Don’t check your email or any other account until you have finished breakfast! Fuel your brain first and foremost.
- Set your own schedule and your own pace. Only you know what you are capable of and what works best for you.
- Use the phone. Too often we only rely on e-mail. Any more than 3 replies to one email is excessive. The problem would be solved and things would get done much quicker with a simple call and quick conversation.
- Take a break. Never work for more than 90 minutes straight. Your back will hurt, your eyes will get dry, and your attention span will decrease. Have a snack, a drink of water, a walk.
- Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and exercise. Not eating will cause your brain to work much slower. Again, healthy body = healthy mind.
- Sleep. No explanation needed.
- Don’t forget to have fun or you will burn out and you know you can’t afford for that to happen!
What are your productivity tips? What works for you? What’s are your biggest distractions?