Posts Tagged "be more productive"

Work Less, Do More?

Work Less, Do More?

Posted By on Mar 24, 2014

One of the advantages to being an entrepreneur is that you get to set your own schedule, at least to a certain extent. Wouldn’t it be great if you could shorten the amount of time you spend on work each week, and actually get MORE out of the time you do spend working? It’s not as difficult as it sounds.

photo credit: nicwn via photopin cc

photo credit: nicwn via photopin cc

When you give yourself a full work week to get all of your To Dos to be completed, you’re probably going to use every minute of that week – and then some. But if you really think about it, how much of that time do you waste doing menial or unimportant things, just because you know you’ve got all day to finish your list? If you make a few tweaks to your work week you’ll find you can streamline your productive time AND leave plenty more free time than you’ve ever had before.

Ready to get started? We thought so. Here’s a list of tips that should set you on your way:

1. Prioritize your list.

It may sound silly, but if you allow your To Do list to fill up with extraneous items every week, it only drags down your productivity. Focus on your absolute priorities, and put those first. Get them done as quickly as you can and then if you feel like doing more you can always go to a back-up To Do list with less-important tasks on it.

2. Guard your time.

Seriously, guard the time you spend working like it’s the most precious thing you have. If you’ve given yourself 30 minutes to write your next blog post, but you let your spouse/kids/mom’s phone call interrupt you in the middle of that time, chances are it’s going to take you an hour or more to actually write the post. Set specific hours of the day for yourself when you’re going to complete your most focused work and then ask your friends, family members, and even clients not to call you during those hours unless there’s some sort of emergency. You can talk on the phone later in the day when your brain isn’t wired for absolute productivity.

The other side of this is that YOU can’t be your own distraction during this time. Silence your cell phone so it won’t alert you of every e-mail that comes in. Keep your computer closed if you do production-type work and ban yourself from distracting web sites if you have to work online. Keep the time for work just that – time for WORK – and you’ll find a lot more time for play comes out of it in the end.

3. Delegate and automate.

There are a lot of time-consuming tasks that you probably do even though you don’t have to. Hire an assistant or an intern to pack up your orders for shipping, or to track your inventory shelves. Set up an FAQ page on your web site so your customers won’ t email you with the same questions day after day. Set up an automated system for invoices, appointment-setting and email responses so you won’t waste time doing things that someone else could do instead.

4. Take time to relax & refresh.

If you try an experiment and give yourself one day a week to be completely offline, away from your inbox and out of touch with your business, you may find something surprising: when you come back to work on Monday, you’ll actually work harder and faster because you’re feeling so refreshed from your break. Take at least one day a week to spend on your own or with family and friends, away from the To Dos for a while. It will do wonders for the time you do spend at work, because you’ll find yourself streamlining your work process to make sure you get to take that time off every week. You never know – you might even find yourself taking two or three days a week to refresh! Shocking, we know. But you deserve it!

photo credit: danielmoyle via photopin cc

photo credit: danielmoyle via photopin cc

If you’d like to learn more about working smarter, not harder, check out these finds from the Interwebs:

Etsy: Work Smarter, Not Harder

Forbes: In Pictures: How to Shorten Your Work Week

Staples: Shorten Your Work Week by Automating These Simple Repeat Tasks

New York Times: Be More Productive: Shorten the Workweek

Handmadeology: Work Less, Be Happy!

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Do you ever look at the uber-successful business owners you admire and wonder how they got so lucky? Guess what – they probably aren’t. Chances are they didn’t win the lottery or inherit a million dollars from some rich uncle they’d never heard of. Instead, they’re simply very good at managing their time, and their productivity is the key to their success.

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

The good news is that you, too, can harness your own inner productivity powers and put them to work for you. Here are some tips we’ve gathered for improving your productivity:

1. Take care of yourself. 
This may sound like it has nothing to do with actually working, but in reality the well-being of your body has a lot to do with your ability to focus on a task and get stuff done. Take time out of every day to exercise, drink plenty of water and keep up with as many healthy eating habits as you can muster. If you feel good, you’re going to be good at getting your work done.

2. Marry your routine.
Seriously, even if you work from home, “setting your own schedule” can’t be a euphemism for “hanging around all day not getting anything done.” Set a routine for yourself that’s just as strict – if not stricter – than the type of routine you’d have to follow if you had a typical 9 to 5 job. If you DO have a day job, bring the routine and habits from the workplace into the time that you work at home. Dedicate yourself to a schedule you can keep, and you’ll be more likely to stay on task throughout the day. Make sure to plan your day so that you’re working during your peak feel-good time (for me, that’s first thing in the morning, but I know other people do their best work later in the day so that might be how you need to schedule your working time). During the times of the day that you tend to get easily tired or distracted, give yourself easier tasks to do like reading and responding to e-mails or checking in with your social media sites. If you need a quick pick-me-up, take a 5-minute break to stretch or do a few quick sprints up and down the nearest staircase to get your blood flowing and your brain back on track.


3. Avoid distractions.
Yep, I know, this one’s easier said than done. It can be soooo tempting to take a “quick break to check in on Facebook,” and then all of a sudden you look at the clock and realize you’ve just spent an hour stalking your high school boyfriend. If you know that certain things will trigger you to get off-track with your day, avoid them like the plague. You can even use them as a reward to yourself – for me, I allow myself to check in with my knitter pals on Ravelry only after I’ve finished all of my working tasks for the day. That way I use the social media site as a carrot to dangle on the proverbial stick and it keeps me going to finish my tasks more efficiently.
Of course, sometimes distractions come in the form of people – your kids run into the room every five minutes while you’re typing a blog post, or your husband calls you in the middle of your work day because he’s got a break at his job and he’s bored. Do what you can to minimize these distractions by asking your family members to respect your working time and setting boundaries. If you have to, turn off the phone for a while; if there’s an emergency you can get a message via text.

photo credit: f_mafra via photopin cc

photo credit: f_mafra via photopin cc

4. Tidy up.
If you work in a messy space, your brain will become just as messy on the inside. Keep your work space de-cluttered and streamlined so that the clear space around you allows you to think with a clear head. Make it a daily ritual to tidy up your space at the end of the day, when you don’t have much brain power left, and ban anyone from entering the area until your next work day so it doesn’t get messy in the meantime. This is also a helpful tip if you have a production-based business: you’ll make your products faster if you have all the necessary supplies in places that are neatly organized and easy to reach.

5. Get out of bed. Now.
Sure, you’re not a morning person. You work for yourself so you don’t have to be, right? You can sleep until noon! The problem with that scenario is that you’ve wasted half your day just lying around in bed. Try giving yourself 30 extra minutes every morning by just turning back that alarm clock by half an hour. You’ll be amazed at how much more you accomplish in the day.

6. Make your goals visual.
When you’re working hard, and you’re all by yourself, it can be helpful to remember WHY you’re doing it. Write out an affirmation, print a photo of the vacation destination you’re saving up for, or make yourself a chart you can use to reward your progress with stickers. Whatever you’ve got that motivates you to keep going, put it up on the wall, front and center in your work station. That way, every time your mind starts to wander, you’ll see your goal up there in front of you and remind yourself to keep your eyes on the prize.

Need more ideas for a productive life? Check these out:

Going Home to Roost: Streamlining Production

Handmadeology: 7 Productivity Pitfalls to Avoid

Robin Sharma: 21 Tips to Become the Most Productive Person You Know

Daily Good: 12 Productivity Tips from Incredibly Busy People

Handmadeology: Tips to Increase Productivity in the Studio


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