Look, we know how you’re feeling. The summer we had all been wishing for is definitely over, and now we’re in that transition into the colder months. It’s getting dark earlier again, it’s wet or overcast most days, and you’ve already had to get out your big jumper to avoid the dreaded ‘putting on of the heating’. Add that to a year and a half of pandemic sapping all of your energy, it’s no surprise that you’re not really feeling all that productive!
But as a business owner, you can’t really afford to be unproductive. People are relying on you to get things done, and you need to complete tasks to keep your own business running. So what do you do? Well, the good news is that productivity isn’t some mythical creature to catch. It’s a formula. If you put the right structure in place and use the right ingredients, you will create a much more productive you. The formula is a little different for everyone, but here are our top 5 things you could do right now to improve your productivity this month.
If you’re not already planning for your business, then there might be a bigger problem at play. But in this case, we mean planning your week. A good plan is the key to productivity, so what we like to do is sit down every Monday morning and plan out what needs doing that week, when it needs to be done, and what we want to achieve each day. This doesn’t have to be some big long process – about 10 minutes with a pen and paper will give you a plan for the week and a list of tasks for each day, all in priority order. So now you know what you need to be doing and when, and you’re less likely to get distracted by other things. And at the end of each day you get to look down that list and see how much you’ve achieved 0 and if you missed anything, you can move them onto the next day!
The ability of anyone to multi-task is a myth. Sorry to break it to you, but even women can’t multi-task, because it’s physically impossible for a person to do more than one thing at once. Research has shown that the human brain is capable of doing single tasks very quickly, switching back and forth between multiple tasks at a rate that makes you feel like you’re actually doing two things at once – but you aren’t. Instead you’re doing something called parallel processing, and unless your brain is specifically wired to handle it, it’s rarely productive. So what we recommend is that you stop trying. Instead, try to focus on a single task at a time. Our favourite method for this is called the Pomodoro technique – where you work solidly on one thing for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. Repeat this cycle 4 times, and then take a 30 minute break to recharge your batteries. Taking so many breaks might seem counter-productive, but you actually end up doing more this way. There are tons of free Pomodoro timers available online, so why not try this one out and let us know how it goes!
Specifically, tidy your workspace! There has been a lot of research done into the state of your workspace and your mental engagement, and the results can’t be argued with. If you work in a cluttered, messy workspace, you’re more likely to feel stressed, and you’re going to get less done. Our brains simply aren’t wired to respond well to messy spaces, particularly in times of stress, and so you’re always going to have that minor distraction. So if you’re the kind of person who tends to have a messy desk by Wednesday, try putting aside just 5-10 minutes once a day, or even once a week to clear things off, put everything back where it belongs, and check that you have everything you need for the weeks work. That way you’re never caught short with a stapler but no staples!
Saying no as a business owner is tough. We get that. But sometimes it’s necessary, and we need to remember that no is in fact a complete sentence. Remember that you don’t have to attend every meeting, jump on every call, or go to every single event you’re invited to. Your time is precious, and whether you’re using it to focus on work, or to have some much-needed recharge time, it’s important to give yourself permission to say no. Practice saying no to just a few things, and see how much more productive you can be with that extra time!
Break Things Down
Sometimes the reason we procrastinate and avoid being productive is because the tasks we need to do seem very big and scary, and we just don’t want to do them. We tell ourselves we don’t have time to tackle those big projects, and we focus in on smaller, less productive tasks instead. But do you want to know a secret? A big task is just lots of small tasks stacked on top of each other. And when you break the big task down into those smaller tasks, suddenly it doesn’t seem so scary anymore. Let us give you an example. Say you have a blog post to write. The task of ‘write a blog post’ can be broken down into 5 smaller tasks:
- Coming up with a title
- Researching your topic
- Sketching out the structure and what you want to talk about
- Writing a first draft
- Editing that draft
Suddenly, that big task isn’t so big, and you can tackle it in chunks and fit it in around other tasks. This way the big task still gets done, and you end up more productive as a result. Try it with the next big task you’re facing, and see what a difference it makes.
And if you find all of that doesn’t help? Then you might need someone to step in and take some of the load for you. At Your Admin Hub it’s our job to take on all of the niggly, annoying tasks that are essential to running your business, but you just don’t have the time, skill or willpower to get done. We make sure everything runs smoothly in the background so that you have the time to focus on what really matters, and can be more productive as a result. Want to know more? Get in touch with the team today.