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Productivity tips – something you’ll read about all the time, but something you might be failing to implement into your working day. 2020 was a strange year, to say the least. The pandemic changed how we all worked, and a lot of us had to start working from home – either alone, or around family, pets, and all sorts of distractions. This has proven difficult for so many people across the world because they feel like they can’t get anything done. On top of that, they don’t WANT to do anything, because they’re not in a work environment. This has unsurprisingly led to less productivity, motivation, and personal growth.
After around 2 months of feeling this way myself, I decided to take action and make a change in my routine to improve the way I was feeling! Take a look at some of my favorite productivity tips that help me make the most of every hour of my day;
My first productivity tip is to plan out the week ahead. I like to do this on a Sunday afternoon/evening as I’m a sucker for Sunday night blues. We all get this, the week ahead is looming and we already feel completely overwhelmed with how much we’ve got to do. Try getting out a piece of paper (or your notes on your phone) and writing down everything you can think of. I like to then number them in order of importance, and highlight the really urgent tasks. Ideally, you don’t want to be putting tasks off until the following week, but this way it makes you realize what you actually NEED to get done in the week ahead.
Next up is to open up your calendar/diary and block out slots of time where you’re going to complete certain tasks. Double-check any appointments you’ve got, make sure they’re in there and confirmed, and then plan your day around them. For example, I normally have a few meetings on a Monday morning, so I leave a bit of space around these, and then block out 30 minutes for lunch, 30 minutes for a quick walk, and then block out 3 hours in the afternoon for client work, and 1 hour for all of my social media scheduling for the week. This allows you to have a broad look at the week ahead, and physically see the time you’ve allocated to each task. It also helps you to commit to getting your tasks done, as you won’t want to ruin your very organized calendar! (That might just be me).
This is one of my key productivity tips and a super important one. Anyone who has TikTok will understand this, but HOURS can go by without you realizing when you get distracted by something. Whether it be a social media app, texting, your pet, or even Netflix, you need to make sure you don’t get distracted. So, put your phone on do not disturb (if you need it for work, then just turn off your notifications, or even better, get another phone just for work purposes), and put it out of sight so that you don’t get tempted to open it up. Time block your breaks, so if you’re addicted to a new series on Netflix, you know that you can watch it at 2 pm when you have a break or at 6 pm when you’re eating dinner. It’s all about balance and making sure you commit to getting work done when you say you’re going to.
DO NOT WORK IN BED. This is something I tried, and learned, does not work and is not good for you. I started associating work with bed and bed with work and I just became frustrated, unproductive, and lazy. Productivity tip #4 is to create a separate and dedicated workspace. Whether it be your kitchen/dining room table, a desk/dressing table you have in the spare room, or if you’re lucky enough, a home office. Try to make sure you’re by natural light, and working in a clean and de-cluttered environment. I’m a firm believer in a “tidy office, tidy mind”.
Presuming you’ve already time blocked your urgent tasks, schedule your least favorite tasks next. This will not only get them done and out of the way, but will also give you so much motivation for the rest of the week. Imagine not spending every day dreading the thought of a task you know you’ve got to do, and instead, spending the week doing what you love! You’ll also have even more reason to reward yourself, as you’ve battled through, and avoided procrastination!
Ask yourself, “Is this task the best use of my time?” Could you be putting your time and brainpower towards something more pressing and focus on growing your business instead of being overrun by it? For example, it takes me so long to write all of my social media captions, find images, and create graphics, so this is something I would outsource to a social media manager. They might even come up with a whole new social media strategy for me to increase my sales, not just maintain my profiles! We can’t be perfect at everything, so outsource tasks you don’t enjoy or you’re not as strong at to someone else. If you need a hand for a few hours a week and don’t want to hire a full-time employee, consider an independent contractor like a virtual assistant. This means your time-consuming tasks are taken off your hands, without you having to manage an employee, train them, pay towards their pension, provide workspace & equipment, etc.
This can be a hard one to swallow for a lot of people. But the truth is, you don’t have to say yes to everything and as a small business owner, you shouldn’t be! You need to be prioritizing yourself and your business, and only saying yes to things you actually want/need to do. For example, I’m sure you’ll all be familiar with the meme “this could have been an email”. Well, it’s true. Stop joining meetings that you don’t need to be a part of that normally consist of 5 minutes of quality conversation, and 20 minutes of small talk or off-topic conversations.
If it’s all work and no play, you’ll end up feeling burnt out. Rewarding yourself and knowing that your working towards something nice can really improve your productivity and make you more motivated and willing to work hard. Make sure to schedule some ‘me time’ when you’re planning out your week. Give yourself a lunch break, and make sure to schedule some time for exercise, relaxation, and socializing! You could even take a day off in the middle of the week if you feel like you can and that you’re organized enough and on schedule! If you’re reading this and thinking “there’s no way I have time for ‘me time’’’ then you need to seriously look at outsourcing, as you’re going to work yourself into the ground!
HEY I'm HOLLY!
Owner & founder of The Genie VA. A virtual assistant agency for wedding photographers