Staying productive is difficult in general. There are so many things vying for our attention. Spend time over here, check this out, watch this video it will only take a couple minutes, read this article, vote here! It’s actually amazing that we get any work done these days. So how do you shift through the clutter that is the information highway and virtual world around you, so that you can still be productive, take care of the tasks that are assigned to you, and feel accomplished at the end of the day?
We’ve got 6 easy tips, with proven results, to get you started:
CHECK YOUR EMAILS ON A SET SCHEDULE
Unless you are in a business where emergencies pop up often (and very rarely do we find emergencies anyway when we check out emails), there is no need for you to have that nervous tick where you check your email constantly through the day. And by constantly I mean, every time the little alert pops up that says “You’ve Got Mail.” This is a productivity killer. It’s also an all too easy way to distract yourself and get off track. You were working on a client project, and then before you know it you’re responding to a random technical question from another client that isn’t life threatening. Set a schedule for checking your emails, it can be the top of every hour, and then stick to it.
RETURN PHONE CALLS ON A SCHEDULE
How many times have you watched your phone as it rang, and thought twice about wether or not to answer it? Or how often do you have a list of people to call back, with all the good intentions to call those people back, but you put it off until before you know it, it’s the end of the day? You can use your own discretion about whether or not to take a call when it comes in (If you have too many calls interrupting your day, it might be time for you to seriously consider hiring a receptionist or a virtual assistant). However, when it comes to returning calls, set a schedule that works with your time and your work flow. It can be as simple as at 10AM and 2PM you will return phone calls. This way you can stop naturally and plan your work knowing when you need to take a break for phone calls.
PREPLAN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA
You don’t have to stalk Facebook, Twitter, and your other business social media accounts to have an online campaign that produces results or to stay engaged with your clients. You can very easily use a service provider like HootSuite to plan out your updates for the day, week, month and so on. You can plan those down to the minute they post. Then, you can schedule a time to check in (make it work for your schedule) and provide real feedback and discussions for those who are engaging with you online. If you have reached the point where your social media is too lively to handle, it might be time to outsource that part of your marketing, and have an expert operate as a brand ambassador for your social presence online.
HAVE LEGITIMATE BUSINESS HOURS
Why do you do what you do? Why are you a business owner? Why are you an entrepreneur? Why are you out here on your own, making your own rules and taking risks? We all love our work, we’re passionate about it and its very close to us. But, it is work, and let’s be honest, in addition to our dream of building the best business we can, we also have some other qualities of life that we’re looking to support with this business venture of ours. And these qualities don’t have to be lavish expensive vacations to Milan (unless that’s what you really want, then AWESOME and go for it). But it can be as simple as more quality time with family, an extra vacation, a personal retreat, more me time. Well, your goals outside of work are important too, and you’re the one responsible for getting them in. End your business day at an appropriate time (post your office hours on your website and on your Facebook page so its known) and then go live the life you’ve been working so hard to create. I guarantee you one fuels the other and the other fuels the one.
TAKE A REAL LUNCH BREAK
And by real lunch break I mean, not the one where you are inhaling your sandwich because you’ve only given yourself 15 minutes to eat while you’re in between meeting A and meeting B. And also not the one where you’re eating your lunch, but there’s also a good chance you’re going to spill some special sauce on your keyboard because you’re also finishing up a project at the same time. No. Step away from the computer. Go sit outside, go to a cafe, grab a book, make a date with friends or colleagues. Eat your lunch calmly, do all the important things (like chewing), and enjoy a break. This will help keep you balanced and ready to tackle the second half of your day.
HAVE A TO DO LIST
To Do Lists are amazing! I believe that its actually therapeutic to check things off of them. Whether you are old fashion and have the pen and paper approach, or you’ve got some new app that helps you out, this is the way to go. It keeps you on track. It helps you partition out your day and then you get things done. Here’s an insider’s tip of how I run my To Do list: I have it partitioned out. Up top, I have the items that I absolutely want to get done from that day to that week. I do my best to order these in terms of priority. Then, I have a second portion where I list items that don’t have the same high priority but still need to get done (such as, for example, organizing the week’s receipts, etc). These are things that I take care of when I find I have a free moment or when I need a break from a long stretch of working on something else. My list is virtual, so at the bottom I have a reminder of everything that has been crossed off for the week. It’s reassuring to know that I’m getting things done, even when it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.
With these tips, you are sure to get your work done. Now let’s go be productive.