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.
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.
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: