"How can I be more productive?" is a common question amongst those who are self-employed.
Running your own business from home is a practical solution for many people who want to work flexibly around their other commitments.
But working from home is not without its challenges. One of biggest of these is staying focus and productive, around all the many temptations to do other things about the house.
But don't worry, help is at hand! Follow these these tips and you’ll have every chance of staying happy and focused so you can hit all your goals in record time!
5 tips to make you a more
productive home business owner
1. Plan your day the night before
What better way to start your day than with a ready-made plan of action?
Plan your day the night before to start your day with intention.
By planning the night before, you can really hit the road running each day and encourage ‘flow’. You may even find that your clever brain has started working on some of the tasks for you already while you were sleeping!
If you start the day by procrastinating or wondering what to do first, you’ll lose time and focus, so get in the habit of planning ahead the night before, and/or setting out your entire week on a Sunday.
When planning your day, try using the Time Blocking technique. As it’s name suggests, it involves blocking set times in your diary for completing specific tasks and it's a useful way to help stop you from becoming distracted.
I like to colour code my time blocks according to the project or priority they belong to - it helps me to stay focused at a glance. Knowing I have a set amount of time for a task also stops me becoming distracted by Facebook, emails or making another cup of coffee.
Block out some contingency time too. Days rarely go 100% to plan - leave some time for the unexpected so these events don’t knock out your entire day. And if everything goes smoothly, then you’ll have some spare time to relax, work on your personal development, get ahead on another task or start planning your activities for tomorrow.
I also block out some JEDI time once a week. This is 1-2 hours where I motor through all the tasks I've been putting off for one reason or another and 'Just 'Effing Do It'!
2. Be clear about your priorities
Once you know what your priorities are, it’s much easier to stay focused on the activities that are important and will help you achieve your goals and say ‘No’ to everything else. This takes discipline, but will save you a LOT of wasted time.
Knowing that the work you are doing is taking you a step closer to your goals is also extremely motivating and often results in you achieving a lot more than you expected!
Be clear about your priorities to help you stay motivated & focused on the right actions.
3. Be realistic
If you are poor at time-keeping or find you never have time to do everything you wanted, it’s highly likely that you’ve taken on too much.
When planning your days, be realistic about how much time things take to complete - and then add on 20% as things ALWAYS take longer.
If you are not sure how long your regular tasks take you, then use the Pomodoro technique to find out. Set an egg timer or an alarm for 20 minutes, then work solidly on your task and stop at the end of the 20 minutes and reflect on how much you were able to do. Use this knowledge to allow enough time for these activities in the future.
And if you find you are often running late, then this tip is for you - don't do that 'one last quick thing' before you leave!
If you often run late, here's a tip - don't do that 'one last thing' before you go!
4. Be aware of your most productive times of day
Not all hours in the day are created equal. There are some times when you'll find it easier to be focused, other times when you are more creative, others when you are more social and so on.
Take some time to explore your natural rhythm, perhaps even making a note in your journal of your levels of energy and inspiration at different times of the day, and then start planning your days and tasks according to this - matching each tasks to its most appropriate time of day.
5. Set aside time for relaxation
I’m aware that this may sound counterintuitive, but bare with me.
When we are tired we are less productive. According to Dr. Nick Hall, there is no such thing as too much stress - only too little counter-stress. Mix up your activities so that you have time to ‘relax’ in between tasks. This needn’t mean doing nothing, but doing something completely different.
For example, if you’ve spent time writing a blog post, follow that activity with something that has little to do with language or communication. A short walk, some time being creative or listening to some music for example, would help relax and refocus the mind ready for your next activity.
Brendan Burchard suggests trying the 50/10 rule. That means sitting down to work, but setting your alarm for 50 minutes later before you start. When your alarm goes off, put everything down then do something different for 10 minutes. He suggests a short meditation, walk or some stretching. If you do this, you'll feel the difference at the end of the day - you'll feel satisfied with everything you've achieved and you'll feel energized too!
I’ve found it myself, when I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I’ll often have a bath and a quick nap. Then one hour later, I’m recharged and ready to refocus on my priorities and motor on through my workload. I definitely get more done overall after taking a break.
Have you tried any of these techniques?
What’s your favourite way to stay productive?
Share your ideas and experiences in the comments below!
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