7 Tried and True Ways to Increase your Productivity
When you’re a business owner, it’s in your best interest to increase your productivity to work less, so you can do the other things you love more. After all, you’re not punching the time-clock anymore. When more hours put in, doesn’t equal more money brought in, you’ve got to utilize your time to be your most productive self. Early on in my self-employed journey, I was a girl who sat down at my desk each day with no game plan, no strategy, and possibly a TV show on in the background to distract me. Bad move! I’ve learned my lesson, and now I’m able to work smarter not harder and earning more along the way.
Here are my absolute tried and true tips for creating your most productive day.
1. Create weekly “champagne moments”.
I first learned this concept on an episode of Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield. Amy’s guest, Carey Bentley, talked about a strategy she uses to set weekly priorities. On Sunday evening or Monday morning, pick anywhere from 3 to 5 things that if you accomplished this week would feel worthy of a champagne toast on Friday after work to celebrate. Get specific, be practical, and write it down. Once you have your champagne moments, figure out what smaller steps you need to take to get to that moment. I literally just start a new page in my notebook for each week with my champagne moments, and then I make sure that those things are worked into my daily schedule. This helps you actually focus on the things that will move your business forward versus just focusing on those things that are screaming the loudest. For example, in my website design business, my champagne moments might look something like this:
- Design 5 website pages for client #1
- Launch brand and website for client #2
- Write rough drafts for 5 blog posts
Those champagne moments are all specific, measurable and attainable for me! That doesn’t mean that those are the only things I’ll do all week, just that these items are my focus. You don't have to literally pop a champagne bottle each week to celebrate, but ya can if you want to!
2. Choose 3 things to focus on each day.
When you start your workday, instead of just diving into your inbox first thing or that project that you keep forgetting to work on, take 5 to 10 minutes and decide on what you will work on that day. If you do step #1, then you should already have a pretty good idea of what to do based on your champagne moments! By being intentional, you avoid that oh-so-common pitfall of hitting 5 o’clock and wondering what you did all day. I sometimes choose even less than 3 things and will work on just ONE really important project.
Go the extra mile tip: Decide on your 3 things the day BEFORE at the end of that workday, so you can just dive right in when the day starts.
3. Be intentional with planning each day, month, season, and year.
I believe that productivity and time well spent starts with being intentional. I use Powersheets by Cultivate What Matters to set goals for the entire year and break those goals down into manageable monthly, weekly, and daily goals. Powersheets help me focus on what really matters in my life. [Read about how I set intentional goals with Powersheets here!]
Another tool I love to use is the 5 Minute Journal by Intelligent Change. This quick and easy journal prompts you to practice gratitude and affirmation each morning and set 3 major goals for that day. Before going to bed, you journal again and write about what could be improved from the day before. This practice helps me stay focused on what matters in my life - whether that’s in my business or other priorities! And it truly does just take 5 minutes!
4. Actually get dressed in the morning
I know, I know… self-employed life rocks because you get to wear your PJs all day, go bra-less, and work from bed. If you are convinced that you’re living the sweet life with these habits, then I challenge you to try just 1 week of actually getting dressed and working from a desk. When I say get dressed I don’t mean wearing a blazer and heels. Your workday attire can be nike shorts and a comfy tee. Whatever you choose to wear, the process of putting on new clothes, washing your face, and putting on some makeup will do wonders for how you feel.
Go the extra mile tip: Schedule your workout into your workday with intention, so that you’re not wasting time getting ready twice! I recommend morning workouts so you can shower, get dressed, and do your makeup just one time.
5. Turn off your phone and computer notifications.
You can probably relate to this situation: You’re focused on a task, your phone lights up or buzzes with a notification from some app you barely use (or worse, something you feel like you have to reply to right then!), you stop what you’re doing to look at it/respond/delete/whatever, and now as you get back to your task…. You’re so distracted. We’ve all been there, and these little dings and buzzes are distracting you more than you think. Plus, this study showed that even when you don’t interact with the distraction, it will still disrupt your attention. Today, take just 10 minutes and go into your iPhone and laptop settings to turn off push notifications for all those pesky apps!
To do this on the iPhone, visit settings > notifications > and then you can adjust for each individual app!
6. Track your time to find your productivity pitfalls.
Have you ever really looked at how you spend your workday or exactly how many hours you’re putting in? It can be EYE OPENING. For months now, I track my work each and every day using the free tool, Toggl. In Toggl, you can set up clients and projects and add descriptions for each work session you do. I can differentiate between my time spent on a specific client project and my time spent writing blog content for my own business. I can see how much time each week I spend in meetings and how much time I spend building websites. This also allows me to get an exact measurement of how much I’m earning per hour on each project I do. If you’re not sure if you’re being paid your desired hourly rate on standard package projects, this is the way to find out! You’ll be amused at what you find. Start tracking your work time today!
Kinda Fun Fact: The first week I tracked my time, I would have guessed that I had worked 45+ hours because that’s how I FELT. In reality, it was only 38 hours that week of actual focused work time!
7. Stop multitasking!
Going between tasks constantly isn’t a superpower, it’s a productivity pitfall. I love the way this article from Forbes puts it: “It has been scientifically demonstrated that the brain cannot effectively or efficiently switch between tasks, so you lose time. It takes four times longer to recognize new things so you're not saving time; multitasking actually costs time.” For me, that doesn’t mean I only work on 1 project all day, but it does mean that I might spend an entire day (or half day) that is just focused on design work with no admin stuff, very little emailing, and definitely not content writing. The next day might be focused on administrative work such as dealing with finances, scheduling social media content, emailing back leads, and writing content. I can seriously FEEL my brain working better when it isn’t going between these tasks every couple minutes. On a side note, one area where I DO find benefits in multitasking is with podcasts because I can still totally FOCUS on what I'm listening to. I love to listen to podcasts when doing more mundane tasks such as getting ready in the morning, exercising, cooking, or driving. I typically listen to 5-8 business podcasts a week, all while doing other tasks.
Put it in action: Get out your calendar for next week and decide on an area of focus for each day. I recommend having a hodgepodge day too (usually on Fridays for me!) where you get all the little things done.
There you have it! 7 ways you can be more productive RIGHT NOW. And remember, being productive isn’t just for productivity’s sake. By using our time well in work, it allows us to have more time with friends, family, and other things we love!