10 tips to increase your productivity

I don’t know if it’s just me (or maybe it’s because I’m always on the lookout for hacks to improve my own efficiency), but productivity seems to have become a hot topic this year.  On blogs, websites and certainly with my own clients.

And it was late last week, in my Facebook group I was asked for tips on increasing productivity.

2017 has been the year I’ve ramped up my business output.   And this ramp has involved me doing more – but not increasing the hours in the week I have. I have two young boys (2 & 4 year old) and I have childcare 3 days a week.  So I have had to find ways to become even more productive.

So, I thought I’d share some of my own top tips

1. TIME BLOCKING

My working day starts at 9.30am and finishes at 6pm.  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.  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 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.

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).

2. TRELLO

My new favourite app is Trello.  There’s a strong chance I’m not using it to its full potential.  But I’m ok with that.  I have the app on my phone and on my desktop.  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. DAILY EXERCISE

Whether that’s formal gym work or getting out for a walk, getting out and clearing your head is great for productivity.

6. SET A DEADLINE.

How’d you work under a bit of pressure?  If you give yourself too much time, you run the risk of procrastination.  Oh, and perfectionism.  Put in the deadline and watch the progress.

7. BATCHING

Completing similar tasks together in batches helps you free up time that would otherwise be lost to the admin work associated with task switching. Use this process to handle things like phone calls, emails, or errands.  I do this early on and plough through my admin.

 8. BECOME ACCOUNTABLE

Tell others of your plans and when you’ll have projects complete. They’ll expect results, and you’ll get things done on time to avoid disappointing your peers.  This is a big part of what I do with my 121 clients, with my own coach but also in my group.

9. 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.

 

10. REFLECT ON PROGRESS

Psychologically we love to see progress.  Any progress is progress and it keeps us motivated.  Make sure you spend time reflecting on what you’ve achieved.  And if it suits your style, what you’re thankful for.  Personally, when I can visually see what I’ve achieved by going over my daily planner it helps me feel so much more productive.

 

What do you find works for you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Email me, or come join the conversation on my Facebook group Women Who Thrive in Business

I’m Sam Dixon, owner of Thrive Coaching – success and business coach to ambitious business women who want to create, develop and grow their business with confidence.  For a free 30 minute discovery call get in touch on 07972 783 507 or email hello@thrivecoaching.org.uk