Being productive – the holy grail right? Yet feeling overwhelmed and having that constant feeling of having too much to do is a conversation I often have with clients. As business owners we feel this sense of ‘how will I get all of this done’ keenly as we manage our work with our day-to-day lives.
Now is the perfect time for me to share my top productivity tip. After all, we are barrelling headlong into the busiest time of the year for product businesses – Christmas!
That peak trading period, that all important fourth quarter - when you’re gearing up your business to be prepared for those festive splurges. The chances are this is going to be when you’re taking the majority of your sales so you absolutely want and need to be mastering your productivity.
Focus is the key to productivity, if you can focus on the task in hand you will complete it more efficiently. Remember productivity doesn’t just mean ‘getting more done’ in one day, it’s actually about being more efficient with your time and prioritising those important tasks.
Start with a list – write down everything that is on your mind – it could be a huge list but the important thing is to dump it all down on paper. Even the act of doing that will make you feel much better!
Once you’ve had a look through your list figure out what you want your first priority to be – but don’t over think it. Then turn off all distractions, phone, internet, radio – anything you don’t need to complete this job.
The kitchen timer
My simple but super effective method for tackling an overwhelming ‘things to do’ list is to use my kitchen timer. There - my top industry secret out of the bag! It works, I promise you.
Set your timer for 20 minutes – then sit down and get on with that task until the timer goes off. You can then move onto something else on your list.
One of the things that stop us from being productive is a feeling of being overwhelmed and constantly having too much to do – but if you give yourself just 20 minutes on a particular task you’ll surprise yourself at how quickly you’ll get into the flow and start making real headway on that job.
Once you’ve done this for several things on your list you can start to think about other techniques to help you keep focused and therefore be more productive.
The night before
During these particularly busy periods forming good habits to organise your workload will help keep you focused. A task that will take just 10 minutes each night might save you hours the following day.
Each night prepare your ‘things to do’ list for the next day – this will help you plan your day and put in measures to keep you focused on the essential tasks. It might be that you can decide not to check your email until midday or keep your phone off for a period of time – planning this the night before will help you to focus on what must be completed and what can wait.
We all have a time of the day when we feel most energised and productive. For some of us it’s first thing in the morning and others it’s the end of the working day – for some out there it’s after lunch - which is quite impressive!
Try to understand your own working pattern and plan your day around that. If you tend to have high energy levels in the morning then it makes sense to plan ‘deeper’ work that requires focus and concentration for then, for example.
A helping hand
Once you feel you’re making good headway on your ‘things to do’ list you might find you’ve carved enough headspace to move THE LIST to an online tool such as Trello.
Tools like this allow you to organise your ‘things to do’ list into categories – at a glance they tell you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what and where something is in a process.
You can set deadlines, set up notifications. Mostly these types of tools are invaluable for clearing your head – so you no longer have to carry all of that information around all of the time. Give one a try.
Remember this is your busiest time of year, there’s so much going on to get ready and plan for that it can feel really overwhelming – you’re not alone and I hope this blog post has given you some good starters to feeling much more in control of your business.
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