If your to do list seems to be growing as your working day gets shorter, the upcoming school holidays may be filling you will a sense of panic. Even on a “normal” week, do you find yourself finishing your day feeling like you haven’t achieved as much as you had hoped?
Before you read my top tips for productivity, first make sure you aren’t actually trying to do too much in one day. So many of my work-life balance coaching clients are setting themselves up for an impossible task of trying to do 26 hours’ worth of “stuff” in 24 hours. So many are sacrificing time for themselves, including sleep, to get through their unrealistic to-do list. Not sure if that is you? Then do the “clock exercise”.
Ok, you are back in the room. What follows are tips to be more productive; to find ways to get everything you need to get done so you can do what you want to do. From balancing your business with childcare, to smashing your career goals or carving out “you time”, pick any of the approaches that will work for you.
Multi-tasking is now old school. Every time you change your attention, changing gear in your thought process, you are actually wasting time. Just consider how it feels to go from working in a spreadsheet to writing a report. Time chunking, or the Pomodoro Technique, involves bringing all related activities together; for example I tend to do all of my writing (blogs, social media posts) on the same day, in 30 minutes bursts. Keeps me in the flow. How would that work for you?
Important / Urgent
When everything feels important and urgent, it is very easy to end up feeling overwhelmed and then nothing gets done. The “Important / Urgent” matrix is a way to consider what “important” and “urgent” actually means to you, and then allocating tasks that way. Are you actually spending time on things that AREN’T Important and Urgent?
When your time is limited, you want to be doing things that make the most impact on your life and your business. This could be making money, getting closer to your goals or developing your mind. Pick 3 to 5 of these a day and make them happen. When your time is restricted, you want the great return on your effort!
Imagine if you could do things at once! As we can’t clone ourselves (yet) then the next best thing is to outsource to someone who can do the work for you. Likewise, if you are spending your time on something you don’t enjoy or you aren’t very good at, then it is more productive to pass this to someone else. This could simply be a short summer contract to free up your time with the children, or a longer term arrangement; what would you outsource?
Set a timer
How do you react to deadlines? Do they motivate you and spur you on when they are close by? Do you find that too much time leads to procrastination and decision fatigue? Focus your attention by setting a timer and have an absolute deadline. You will amazed what you can achieve when time feels scarce.
Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? That 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions or efforts? Reflect on what makes greatest impact in your business and career and do that more!
Over the summer, take advantage of technology. From scheduling your social media, utilising your out of office to set expectations (and sell) and streamline your admin. Before you know it, that short-term productivity fix will become your default setting.
If you had to put your to-do list on a post it note, what would it look like? Force yourself to prioritise by keeping your daily list to that 3 inch square.
Park your ideas
Don’t feel you have to do anything and everything, especially over the summer when your attention will be stretched in different directions. By freeing up your time and being more productive, you will have inevitably have more headspace to have more ideas! Jot them down and schedule in the opportunity to work on them when you are ready.
The key to feeling energised and productive is to not get into the habit of thinking that busy equal success. It is about doing things that add value to you, your life and your career. Which approach will you trial?