Some people are naturally productive. I am not one of them. I struggle with bright shiny idea syndrome. I love to create but I am not always great at completion. Starting projects is more fun than finishing them.
Maybe you are the same way. Some of us just don’t have productivity in our DNA.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.
I get easily distracted by ideas and possibilities and can go down endless rabbit holes after them. Thank goodness I have my husband and biz partner Brad to pull me back and remind me to stay on track.
As you know if you’ve followed me for any length of time, I’ve found systems that work even for the most creative, right-brained thinkers among us. Many of those are productivity systems. We talked about a few of them on Episode 27 of our Path to Profit podcast.
In this blog post, I want to share my best tips to get more accomplished, use your time for work you value, and earn more money in less time. Let’s get started!
1. Track your time.
There are free systems you can use online to do this like Toggl.com, but I recommend the old fashioned way, with a pen and paper because it’s helpful to see it right there next to you. Otherwise, it’s easy to forget to write down each and every thing you spend time on. I also find when it’s written out, I can make it more fun and creative, so I keep at it. Take a look at the results after a week. Tweak and get rid of what I affectionately call your time-eating gremlins.
2. Plan your week.
At the end of your week, find a quiet spot to visually plan out your tasks for the week ahead. Map out what’s really important that you accomplish – not just what’s urgent – and the tasks associated with them. Don’t forget to add in family commitments like soccer practice and carpooling so you allow yourself plenty of time to get it all done. Whether you use a digital calendar like Google or a paper planner like our Artful Profit Planner doesn’t matter. Pick a system that works for you and stick with it!
3. Prioritize your list.
Find a couple of things on your list that are not big priorities for you. See if someone else can do them for you. Also find the most important things on your list and mark them in some way so you can refer back to them and make sure that’s where your time is spent. I encourage my clients to look at what is URGENT and needs to be accomplished in the next 24 to 48 hours versus what is important and what can you postpone. Learning to prioritize your list will help move your business forward faster.
4. Consider your goals.
Go back to your big, long-term business goals. Compare what’s taking up your week with those goals. Are you working toward them? It’s easy to lose track of them in the day to day. If not, break down big goals into smaller weekly or daily goals to make them easier to focus on. Give yourself a gold star for meeting your smaller goals, which will encourage you to keep up the progress. Not having clear, long-term and short-term business goals can lead to overwhelm, feeling like you are spinning and wondering why your business isn’t growing. Need some help creating more clarity and setting goals in your business? I get it! And I’d love to support you. You can schedule time to connect with me here.
5. Limit or cut out social media time.
Set aside a specific amount of time each day for checking social media. It could be the first 30 minute task of the day, the last 30 minutes of your work day, or maybe 15 minutes while you eat lunch. If it’s tough to limit it to once per day, don’t go on social media at all from your computer. If you have a firm rule about it, it might be easier to hold yourself to it. I turned off all notifications on my iPhone so that I wouldn’t be tempted and I don’t keep browser windows open either. Smartest thing I did this year was to minimize my distractions from social media.
6. Stop multitasking.
Learning to focus on one project at a time doesn’t come naturally to many of us, but stick with it and it will become a habit. Finish one project before moving on to the next one. It can really increase your productivity.
7. Pay attention to your natural body rhythms.
Some of us are more productive in the morning, while others are most alert at night. Harness those hours to get your most important work done. Block off that time and minimize distractions. I love getting up early and getting my creative work like writing blog posts done early in the morning.
8. Break up your time.
Part of why it’s difficult for creatives to keep productivity high is that we want to feel excited about what we’re doing, feeling like it’s fresh and interesting and new. Plan breaks for yourself so you can come back to your work with new eyes. Cut down your projects into chunks of time – the harder the project is for you to accomplish, the smaller the time chunk. So even if something feels impossible, you can work on it for ten minutes and stop. That’s ok as long as you keep going.
9. Learn to say no.
If you already have full day’s task list, don’t take on something else, especially if it’s for someone else. If you’ve planned out your time, put that on the calendar for another day or your Distraction To-Do List. You can always come back to it once you’ve accomplished what you’re working on now.
What can you add to this list? Is there a productivity tip or secret that works for you? Share in the comments below.