Being productive can be challenging when you manage your own business, particularly if you ever work from home. Whilst there will always be distractions, there are some effective ways of becoming more efficient with your workload and managing your time more effectively.
1) Don’t check your emails first thing
You sit down at your computer with a clear idea of what you’re going to work on. As you wait for everything to load, you decide to check your email and find two new client enquiries and an existing client wanting an update. Before you know it, you’ve spent over an hour replying to your emails and the task you were meant to be completing is still lying there untouched.
Try checking your emails after your morning break, or even after lunch. Instant responses aren’t always necessary and if something is urgent, customers will give you a call. Or you could outsource your email management to a Virtual Assistant who you can brief to respond to new clients and will get in touch if anything does require your urgent attention.
2) Make a list of what you need to achieve that day
Project management programs like Todoist and Trello are great for assigning tasks to particular days and highlighting how urgent they are. Each morning you can log on and see what you need to work on that day, and when a task is completed you can tick it off. Todoist gives you points every time you finish a task to create a productivity ‘score’, trying to keep your score on the increase is great motivation to work harder.
3) Do your hardest task first
Whether it’s the most difficult or just your least favourite task, do the one that’ll take maximum effort first. It’s usually these jobs that we put off, and keep putting off, until we have no choice to do them and then we don’t feel motivated or in the right frame of mind. By getting on with these tasks first thing when your head is clear and you’re full of energy will make it easier to achieve and leave the rest of the day free for those fun and interesting jobs!
4) Keep away from distractions
Easier said than done, but if you can focus on just the task you’re working on, you’ll be able to give it your full concentration and finish the job faster, and probably with better results! Shut yourself away from other people and noise, if possible. Put your phone on silent and disable any notifications. Turn off the internet if it’s not needed or make sure you only have the webpages you need on the screen – we all know how distracting Facebook can be when we’re trying to work!
5) Try using a timer, such as Pomodoro
Pomodoro is a productivity technique that uses cycles of 25 minutes followed by a 5 minute break. During the 25 minutes you focus on nothing but the task at hand, followed by a quick break to clear your mind and boost your energy. There are four 25 minute cycles and after the last one, you receive a 15 minute break to leave the office and clear your mind. With this website (http://www.marinaratimer.com/) you can decide how long you want to see the time cycles for to suit you and your working methods.
6) Be easy on yourself
Sometimes you can put so much pressure on yourself to get work done that you’re not able to concentrate or work effectively. Try being gentle with yourself and break the work down into more manageable chunks or see if there is anything you can outsource to give yourself more time to do the tasks you need to do yourself. Reward yourself occasionally with a sweet treat or book yourself in for a massage or beauty treatment at the end of the week.
It can be difficult to manage your productivity when you work for yourself and find it difficult to ‘shut off’ at the end of the day. Hopefully, my tips have given you some ideas that you can use to start working more effectively. Do let me know how you get on, and I’m interested to hear of any tips you might have!